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The MEQB attempted to introduce Minnesotans to the newly appointed Governor’s Climate Change Subcabinet. And failed. Miserably. [@7:50 Laura Bishop (LB) really tells us how it is in MN government… with the “political, er public!” appointees.]

How badly did they fail? Well, they never even introduced the new Subcabinet appointees… AND they failed to get many answers for the questions posed by the public. Not a good showing, any way you slice it. And we will.

First, we should say where everyone was from:

n = 180

[Wait, maybe first we should start with the lack of any land acknowledgement being shared? This is something I’ve grown to love hearing from the various groups with which I interact, a reminder of the Tribes’ long history with corrupt government.]

Do we give the MEQB a point for adding Western Minnesota quickly? [after a participant question] Or not? [because afterthought “Eastern” got no add] What exactly are the divisions about – to the MEQB. How is it ONE Minnesota if even the Metro suburbs are segregated out from urban proper? We all get the Metro/Rural divide [which I’ve written about before and which is ridiculous in this forum – I mean don’t we all drink water to live?], but what are these further divisions?

Northern, Central, Southern… Where are the boundaries? Is “Central” the I-94 corridor folks? Are “Southern” those poor folks whose water is already contaminated? “Northern” those pesky folks working to prevent Enbridge from destroying their clean watersheds? If we think these groups have some coalesced voice that requires grouping, what is it? [But, hey, gives you an idea of where people are paying attention to this rollout.]

The session opened, after this “ice-breaker” poll, with a welcome from Laura Bishop, Commissioner of the MPCA and Chair of the MEQB. She thanked Minnesotans for attending to learn more about what Minnesota government is doing to address climate change.

The size and scope of the climate crisis requires our swift action at every level to help protect our communities and ensure a sustainable future for all Minnesotans.

And we need and value your participation in these efforts.”

Laura Bishop intro… We’ll see what they show us today in this vein. Note she also said, “Governor Walz has said, if Washington won’t lead on Climate Change, Minnesota will.” You tell me how confident you feel at the end of this blog about that.

Laura noted that we must work together… “This is the First One Minnesota Climate Forum!” [And she notes coordinating being done with the Tribes.]

Then we had a bit of Reflection guided by Mariah Levinson from the MN Department of Admin’s Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution – how apropos! 😀 [Using the Slido tool for dialogue – because why use a CHAT in the meeting when that would be easier? Either way, if you don’t have a computer, you’re shit outta luck for participation.] The Subcabinet and Board were encouraged to use their video to create the idea that we’re all in the same room together! This is the question for reflection (and my answer – one of MANY comments concerning Line 3):

Keeping good company with J Drake Hamilton – reminding of our time together at the Environmental Congress in Mankato last fall, which seems a decade ago now.

At one point, three NoLine3 Comments were up top! [But we’re not gonna talk about Line 3 today!! Oh, yes we are, Laura Bishop.]

The Line 3 related question chosen was SURE to NOT mention Line 3. [Seriously, listen at 1:19:19]

We next moved on to introductions of the state agency reps where each spoke on “a potential climate solution” they are excited about. Lots about Clean Cars, EVs, and EV Infrastructure for BIG BENEFITS TO MN!

Grace Arnold, new Commissioner of Commerce reported after Commissioner Bishop, following on her lead, noting that getting pollution out of the air brings good health impacts. We spent about 20 minutes on these introductions for the MEQB. [And I have to say I CONTINUE to LOVE Jennifer Ho of Housing.] Nick Martin – newest MEQB member repping CD 4 – with background in electric, natural gas, transportation, ag, forestry sectors, spoke near the end. While I was a bit put off by his buzzword bingo, he made some interesting comments.

Ben Yawakie impressed with his comment:

… Loved what I’m hearing from everyone so I’ll just add something different and new. With respect to transitioning away from the use of fossil fuels, and also respecting tribal sovereignty and protecting water quality, by discontinuing any new projects such as Line 3. Thank you.

Benjamin Yawakie, Citizen Board Member CD 3 No, Ben. Thank YOU!!!! ❤

Gerald Van Amberg reiterated getting “everyone on board” to address climate change. At about 45 minutes in, I was wondering how we were going to get to all the introductions for the 15 new Climate Change Subcabinet appointees. Well, no worry. We weren’t! Instead, we got some brief talks about ideas to see what MN is looking to do with the Subcabinet. About 50 minutes in you can see the additional structure of our government workers who will be solving the climate crisis here in Minnesota.

Circles of people, who can all point at each other as the ones “doing something”?
FFS, took us a year to get the fucking subcabinet appointed! And look who’s on it! [Ann Mulholland is highlighted only because that’s who I was checking when I took the screen shot. No special emphasis for her, unless someone else has something?]
My personal notes on looking into these folks…

Faith Krogstad, Engagement Coordinator for the MEQB, talked about Climate Change Public Engagement Framework. [So we’ll continue to know our place?] She extended an invitation for us all to get involved and presented some slides from places where engagement IS HAPPENING, like Create – The Community Meal [Seitu Jones’ 2014 project – which is cool as shit so watch this video]. Lots of word salad about how they need to think about new ways to engage but sounds like it’s still a thing they aren’t sure how to do… She mentions a “different table” to get Minnesotans engaged, which includes an interesting approach but not one that seems very “new”. Same old system where individual inputs get buried by “Multilevel” players… Does this mean corporations and partnerships with monied interests?

Engaging the Public… Minimizing Individual Input?
How is this different from what we have now?
Again, individual scientists are gonna be a small voice… no different than now?
Good thing Faith has no time to discuss this in depth!! [FFS]

Then she tells us to take the survey… I covered this last week so please read there on how to get your input heard!

Of the presentations, the only one I really appreciated (as it was not simply word salad of imagined future worlds with no real indication on HOW to get there, as were most of the other presentations) was given by Mary Otto, Tribal Liaison from the Department of Commerce, on Government to Government interactions. Mary gives historical perspective and detailed information on the reciprocity expressed in Tribal Culture. She shows how the MN Tribal Environmental Committee (previously the MN Tribal Executive Committee?) and State Tribal Liaison Coordination Team (MDA, MDT, MPCA, MDOC) overlap in their work with MOTHER EARTH and FUTURE GENERATIONS. What a concept.

Beautiful depictions of government and people projects.

Next Mary Robinson, Info Officer from the MPCA leading Comms and Outreach, discussed the online tools (so not available for all Minnesotans?) and Willis must have been SO HAPPY to see them using the language of “framing”, even if not totally seeming to quite get it yet. While there was some recognition that climate change is already happening – and last month all 15 agencies in the subcabinet got a new toolkit!! – it still feels very much that these folks are truly clueless about the real needs for redressing our situation. You can take action on Local Impacts, State of MN Actions or Community Solutions! Plans are pending for further development! This problem is NOT TOO BIG OR TOO COMPLEX TO TACKLE! [You can also find the new appointments to the advisory council here… I think they believe that simply APPOINTING THE CABINET was a SOLUTION???] Mariah assured us that FUTURE MEETINGS would have opportunities for more engagement. [Promises, promises?]

Then we entered the Q&A section of the meeting! With reflections and responses from our Subcabinet and MEQB Board members? Um… Not so much.

You can see in the above photo of Mary Otto’s presentation, how I was questioning in the chat why MY question was not being approved… [Wondering now if I hadn’t asked, if it EVER would have been approved!]

I added a question at the same time as MEQB Citizen Board member Kristin Eide-Tollefson (1:50 PM), yet you can see that both Matt Doll – Minnesota Environmental Partnership and J Drake Hamilton – Executive Director of Fresh Energy were BOTH approved before mine. What does this say about the algorithm for approval? Who is making those decisions?

While members were encouraged to respond, I saw VERY LITTLE of that during the meeting. Our first question? About urban and community forests… and Shannon Lotthammer responded, noting the Emerald Ash Borer work from 2019… and other projects in progress but that there is more space for things to happen and they are looking for input.

When it came to the second question, Faith Krogstad noted:

Just want to acknowledge that we have a large number of Line 3 questions and that’s obviously a very important topic to a lot of people within the state here so what I would like to do is find (pause) I’m selecting one, um, that actually doesn’t specifically mention Line 3 but I would just ask that anyone responding to it keep Line 3 in mind, um, this one I’m highlighting now:
What effective steps can Minnesotans and policy makers take to turn back future natural gas power plants and oil pipelines that will bring more oil through our state. All of these will build in more fossil use and hence climate change? Without effective action now we are derelict in our duties.”

Faith Krogstad 1:19:20 WTF!?!? Why they so scared of Line 3?

Laura Bishop, currently holding power to approve or deny needed permits for the project at the MPCA, responded.

I think, you know, our getting together as a Climate Subcabinet as well as um doing this outreach to our communities is that first step in really understanding across um our agencies a place that we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. So that is what our intent is with lowering our GHG emissions in the state and the goals that we have in place and the intent to you know come together as a Climate Subcabinet is really getting at that.

With regard to specific to Line 3, what I will say is you know there are all different agencies that have different aspects and the Governor has really asked us to look at the process that is in place as well as follow the science and each agency has, you know, that uh those authorities to look at so, as you know, we have Commerce who has oversight, the Public Utilities Commission that has oversight, DNR has um some oversight for as it relates to different uh wetlands and water crossings, uh as does MPCA with the uh water permits and construction stormwater permits AND we have the Army Corps of Engineers as well that plays a role. So there are many different pieces that have to come together and um certainly a pipeline that does not have a um stated or demonstrated need for supply um is one that um is being looked at right now um so that it’s something the Department of Commerce is has asked for the company to really designate and state the need um for that supply that would be going through the state. Otherwise, what happens is really our duties, um are to look at uh the construction and uh how that comes through the state. So doesn’t really answer the full question, but um, I think it does get at uh what our intent is as a Subcabinet, which is to look at ways (to) mitigate and to decrease the use of these uh fossil fuels that are coming through our state and um certainly uh something that we intend to look at is ways to um bring down our greenhouse gasses through reducing that uh need.

Laura Bishop 1:20:11 – 1:22:50 is of interest as the MPCA has a “duty” to determine Need as well, but they ignored that duty, relying on the “Need” determined by the PUC.

She asked for others on the Subcabinet to speak to this… but no one bit. She moved to a question asking “what can we do”, noting:

… the agencies are really looking at and what we can do and do we have any authority to stop the project. I think what the question here is is really for our agencies to raise those questions so with is there the need, is it protective of our waters with this construction, if the state doesn’t act what happens with the federal government and their role in taking this on and their protections uh with regard to the water uh protections and as well as um really looking at uh those pieces I know there’s been questions about tribal sovereignty and tribal lands and certainly that is something that the tribes have looked at as well um in areas of tribal crossings but we know that hunting, gathering areas are also places that um our tribes have those concerns so those type of dialogues have been happening consistently um with regard to uh interactions by the administration and I know also um the within the communities.

Laura Bishop continues…ending 1:24:50

Which took us to the last question where Faith notes (after unmuting):

as I was saying, we’ve had a lot of questions on Line 3, um, and we really thank the audience members for submitting these important questions and for Commissioner Bishop responding to that. I’m gonna transition to another topic that’s popular here: ‘We often focus on mitigation and consider adaptation as an afterthought. Why aren’t adaptation efforts from and center, along with resilience.’

Faith Krogstad

And I’ll leave you to listen to LB’s word salad at 1:25 and her toss to Frank for his work. All this lead me to add a final comment from the initial survey question:

Luckily we had many allies in attendance (among the 180 – the largest ever MEQB attendance?) as Dorie Reisenweber of Duluth asked to whom we could direct further questions and when comments would be closed. LB noted: This is not a formal comment period for the climate subcabinet but asked her folks if there is something on the climate change website. Or she said you can forward them to her as the Chair of the Subcommittee and that they will look at where we can gather comments. [Uh, if you’re presenting about engagement, think you’d know if there was a way for folks to leave input at the website? Maybe I’m too critical. They’re new, right? FFS.] Mary notes that there is a comment email on the website.

The last question was also pretty great – asking about capitalism and monetary incentives and how we drive policy to incentivize carbon-neutral practices. [Laura seriously mentioned permitting and how we can look at environmental justice committees in permitting work. Wow, like salt in the wound for all the Tribal members opposing Line 3 in the state? Pretty fucking harsh, LB… pretty fucking harsh.]

Meanwhile, Greta issued a response to the UK and their obtuse leaders who seem to ALSO not get the climate catastrophe we’re in and the urgent need for redress. The ask for no more fossil fuel infrastructure – especially for a tar sands pipeline of all fucking things – seems an easy place to start with a mitigation and adaptation decision.

Watch the blog for upcoming posts on Sasha Baron Cohen’s new film, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which is generating lots of excitement as we see the underbelly of power in America exposed. I absolutely LOVE Maria Bakalova!!! She deserves an Oscar. Here’s the trailer.

Oh, and if you haven’t yet read Hank Green‘s new book (and the first one), you need to? Blogs on that too… as Water Protector work allows. As you can see, with an MEQB, MPCA, MDNR like the ones we have, it’s an uphill battle. Every day.