Over the weekend, I issued an Urgent Blog Post as opposed to waiting until today. So glad that I did because today requires another URGENT Blog Post. FFS. [This, ladies and gentlemen, is your indicator. For those of you unfamiliar, from here on out, it’s Sailor Style, Trucker Style, Steel Worker Style, which means I’m not filtering the outrage. Proceed at your own risk. I know some of you quite enjoy this version of me, so, read on if you’re not familiar.]
We’re about to see a terrible collision of two things that cannot peacefully coexist: Pipeline Construction and a Pandemic.
My Saturday blog, Need is Clear… for a Stay on Line 3, explained why the Motion for Stay, filed by White Earth Band of the Ojibwe and Red Lake Band of the Chippewa, was just and valid. Even without many of the reasons noted in their Memorandum, a Stay on the Line 3 project is so obviously necessary to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Minnesotans as Mr. Walz is fond to spout.
We are seeing great increases in cases and casualties here in northern Minnesota at the virus surges. And with so many having little regard for masks, or even the virus itself as legitimate, the dangers were high in the region to start. Now, even with recent legal complaints, petitions, and motions filed and Coronavirus surging throughout the Midwest, Tim Walz seems compelled to rush through all the approvals Enbridge needs to start their tar sands pipeline ASAP. Is he trying to surpass the death figures seen in North Dakota after their recent construction project with Enbridge? It was only a 12-mile stretch so our 337-mile stretch is sure to do the trick.
Our highest daily death total yet plowed us into a 4-day holiday weekend, yet with Monday’s ALMOST ALWAYS our lowest figures for COVID, Tim Walz felt NO NEED WHATSOEVER to ask his Pollution Control Agency to consider a wait-and-see approach on their Stormwater Permits – the last ones needed by Enbridge for the project? Not even until we can see how many dead accummulate by tomorrow? Is One Thousand One Hundred Thirty-Three dead – 1133 DEAD – in November NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU, Tim???
Did the Governor give ONE FUCKING SECOND of consideration to the lives of NORTHERN MINNESOTANS. NOPE! He callously WENT AHEAD with Enbridge’s plans for a November 30th start date. And, to add salt to the wound, he also made sure his Climate Subcabinet could get started ON THE SAME MOTHERFUCKING day – in further ruse of giving an actual FUCK about Climate Change.
Ya’ think people at the funerals are going to think that was funny, Tim?
As if things could not get any more fucked up, the PUC has ordered a Hearing on the Motion for Stay for THIS FUCKING FRIDAY. So… Department of Commerce, the challenge is ON! Can you produce a Brief to join the Tribes in their urgent call for a Stay? In under 48 hours? When you likely expected that the Stormwater Permit might take a bit more consideration for a project so controversial. I feel your pain. And I sure hope you can.
It seems Tim Walz is ALL IN with Enbridge on literally “killing it” in Northern Minnesota with their new pipeline project. Who Gives a FUCK about anybody up here, eh? Just a bunch of rocks and cows, right Timmy?
“How many of your constituents are you willing to sacrifice to the Enbridge God of Oil?”
Well, a bunch of the people who live by those rocks and cows are dying. So I ask you, “How many of your constituents are you willing to sacrifice to the Enbridge God of Oil?” Their God seems to be losing steam in recent years but you don’t seem to be able to find a way out of their pocket? Even when the very lives of your citizens are at risk from the project continuing? During a MOTHERFUCKING GLOBAL PANDEMIC? FOR FUCK SAKE, Tim. Are you even gonna give us a goodbye kiss? Can you at least ACKNOWLEDGE your Negligent Homicide as we experience it?
How do you possibly look at the state of the world, the dying tar sands, the dying people – which eventually means less oil use, eh? – and NOT COMPREHEND that an ALLIANCE with Enbridge is going to send your soul straight to Hell? There is NO FUCKING WAY you can PRETEND that people aren’t dying. You can’t pretend that bringing a bunch of potential COVID super-spreaders from TX, OK, ND, WI aren’t gonna really FUCK US HARD up here in the few hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes we have.
I really don’t know what else to say. It seems there is nowhere else to turn. We’re basically being sacrificed to the Oil Gods, and no on can seemingly do a thing to stop it. Not even Tim. Not even if you give him the verbiage to clarify that his Executive Order 20-20 DOES NOT say Pipeline CONSTRUCTION is Essential. Because it is NOT. And pretending it is will cause irreparable harm to many Minnesota families. Damage that will sting for years to come as we consider the results of his heartless decision-making. Though I’m guessing even the rocks and cows might give a bit more of a Fuck than Governor Walz.
If you give a fuck about anyone up here along Enbridge’s Corridor of Death, can you give Tim a call and ask him to give a fuck too? 1-800-657-3717.
Today we see how work done in opposition to Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline proposal and documentation of the global Coronavirus pandemic intertwine with this week’s submission to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission from White Earth Band of Ojibwe and Red Lake Band of Chippewa. A Motion for Stay… perhaps just in the nick of time as Enbridge proposes to begin… Monday.
MN Healing Stories wrote the first breaking news as the filing was shared to the public docket at 4:51 PM… the day before Thanksgiving. Good thing we are watching things close as things progress very quickly on the ground up here. I stayed up until 3AM reading the well-written Motion and Memorandum to the PUC. And I’ve spent the last two days writing this up so it can hopefully make easy sense for the general populace.
I’m going to break it down in outtakes and photos from the Memorandum in Support of a Motion to Stay (“Memo”), which clearly and strongly states a valid case for the PUC to STAY their orders “finding the Environmental Impact Statement adequate and approving the Certificate of Need for the Line 3 Replacement Project (“L3RP”) proposed by Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership (“Enbridge”), pending a final order by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.”
Here We Go.
Following the introduction and procedural background, there is a Statement of Law that describes Minnesota Statute § 216B.53 regarding Suspension of Commission Order.
The second paragraph of Minn. Stat. § 216B.53 governs whether security bonds are required for a stay. It grants this authority only to the reviewing court and not to the Commission. Rather than require bonds for all stays, the statute indicates that the security bonding requirement applies to “the public utility petitioning for review” and then specifies the particular types of damages and compensation allowed to be included in such bond. Thus, Minn. Stat. § 216B.53 does not authorize or require the Commission to impose a security bond as a term of a stay, and it limits the entities that may be required to pay a security bond to public utilities.
Statement of Law Section I.A.2 Authorization to Stay in Minn. Stat. § 216B.53 (p. 6) my emphasis
The Memo further explains (Statement of Law section I.A.3) that the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act‘s authorization to Stay mirrors that in the Minnesota Administrative Procedure Act (specifically Minn. Stat. § 14.65) and Minn. Stat. § 562.02 on Bonding, which do not authorize the PUC to impose terms on a stay as a “bond requirement applies only when agency action relates to bond transactions, government contracts, and alterations to school districts and only the defendant public body may move the court for such bond.”
So basically, no authorization of the PUC for a bond in this instance. There is much more in the Memo regarding the legalities in Statement of Law section I.B “Authorization to Stay in Rule of Civil Procedure 62 and Rule of Civil Appellate Procedure 108” and the final ribbon in the bow comes in section I.C.
Moving on to Judicial and Administrative Precedent.
In regards to Minnesota Judicial Precedent, the PUC is urged to follow the precedent set in State v. Northern Pacific Railroad Company where the MN Supreme Court “confirmed that the courts have inherent discretionary power to stay enforcement of an agency order pending appeal.” And here is the text from Webster v. Hennepin County detailing said ruling:
For real legal junkies, the Memo explains, in addition to Northern Pacific and Webster, the Court of Appeals ruling in DRJ, Inc. v. City of St. Paul, noted protection of the courts when:
Moving on to a consideration of public interest, [Statement of Law section II.A.2] specifically regarding their risk of injury, the Memo notes the Supreme Court’s suggestion that “a failure to favor stays in cases where actions cannot be undone would as a practical matter severely reduce or eliminate the Court of Appeals’ role within our government”, creating a “precedent that the Court of Appeals will generally grant a stay in (Data Practices Act) cases where an order cannot be undone”. It seems that if a stay is not favored where an agency’s ordered action cannot be undone, it eliminates the jurisdiction of the courts and preserving “court jurisdiction weighs heavily against parties that seek to take irreversible actions under agency orders.”
When it comes to risks to the public (Statement of Law section II.A.3), the court in the DRJ decision held that financial impact on denying a stay “must be balanced against the public interests,” indicating the PUC too must weigh the public interest in evaluating this motion. Going further in assuring the public interest is upheld, the Memo notes the PUC should consider:
whether denial of a stay would block the purpose of an appeal;
whether denial of the stay would cause the moving party (Tribes) to suffer irreparable and serious injury;
whether a failure to grant a stay would void the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction over a case;
whether other risks to the public interest exist, such as safety and welfare matters; and then
weigh these factors against the degree to which the nonmoving party (Enbridge) would suffer “irreparable or disproportionate injury.”
On point 5, the Memo notes that in considering harm to Enbridge, mere adverse impacts do not provide grounds for a stay, and instead, the “irreparable harm” to Enbridge “must be so great and disproportionate” as to moot the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction and prevent the Tribes “from gaining relief.”
One thing that Minnesota Courts do not allow, as noted in Statement of Law section II.A.4) is consideration of whether the Tribes will prevail on the merits of their case as this is a factor used for an injunction, not a stay.
And as if that were not enough, the Memo further explains that “motions for injunctions typically arise… between private parties” while “motions to stay agency action are typically public matters” where the courts hold a responsibility to ensure agency compliance to the law.
Minnesota courts have stated a clear priority for using stays to preserve judicial review of agency action, and have rejected a requirement that motions for stay show a likelihood of success on the merits.”
Statement of Law Section II.A.4 The Minnesota Courts Do Not Include Consideration of the Likelihood of Success on the Merits as a Required Stay Factor (p. 19)
The final Statement of Law section (II.A.5) on MN Judicial precedent explains, citing Minnesota Supreme Court case No Power Line, Inc. v. Minn. Envtl. Quality Council, that when “unique circumstances of a particular case makes it in the public interest to order such a stay”, the Court “has inherent power to order a stay… without… a… bond.” [And, gee, the circumstances in that case sound awful familiar to those we’ve seen in the Line 3 proceedings… a highly controversial project, with citizen appellants, in a case claiming agency error of law in approving a corridor and certificate of need, and with appellants raising questions around agency jurisdiction, non-compliance with MEPA and the certificate of need statute, and the scope of considered alternatives.]
With regard to the Public Utilities Commission, which understands it is governed by the same standards applicable to the Courts, it is clear that a review based on merits would be redundant and that, rejection of the motion for stay – based on a unlikelihood to prevail on appeal – would be over-ridden by the factors noted in Northern Pacific, specifically, as has been laid out explicitly in the Memo, items 1-5 above in the discussion of risks to the public.
The Arguments within the Memo state that the PUC should grant the motion for stay due to multiple factors:
The need to maintain meaning for the Tribal Appeals. An appeal that the Need for the pipeline has not been proven is meaningless if the pipeline is already built. The claim that the PUC decision – made in fear of the safety of the current Line 3 – was outside their jurisdiction means nothing if the pipeline is simply constructed anyway. And if the appeal that the Environmental Impact Statement did not accurately analyze the impacts of a spill is correct, it does nothing to protect us when said pipeline is already carrying oil, regardless of the risks.
The irreparable harms to the Tribes, both as noted in the Line 3 Record and because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Memo reiterates how the Line 3 project record and EIS are full of outright admissions that the effects of this pipeline would bring “disproportionate and adverse impacts” to the Anishibaabeg whose “culture and belief system is dependent upon the natural environment.” In addition, the Memo clearly notes: “Death is irreparable.” And death is marching across this country in the form of a global pandemic. While Minnesotans are being asked to not visit with family for the winter holiday season, the Walz Administration continues to fail in asking for a Delay for the Line 3 project during the pandemic. The Memo notes that, even with Executive Orders and other state efforts to control spread, “COVID-19 is spreading faster and faster,” showing current methods insufficient “either in their terms or because of a lack of compliance by people within the state.”
The potential harms to Enbridge, their customers, and petroleum customers are not irreparable or disproportionate. Due to a host of reasons, including the “ongoing low crude oil prices as exacerbated by the global reduction… in response to the COVID-19 pandemic” and “efficiency improvements and upgrades” which leave Enbridge with a current excess unused capacity of more than what the Line 3 project would add, “a stay would not have irreparable or disproportionate impacts on Enbridge’s financial circumstances or on the oil industry.” The Memo further states, “If a stay is granted, the impact on Enbridge would be temporary and economic,” as Enbridge could “recover the costs resulting from the stay through its federal tariffs … or via another cost recovery arrangement with its customers.” [There is much to learn about how well our government has always and endlessly propped up the oil industry to keep it afloat. Those old-timey lobbyists were not fucking around!] Enbridge themselves admitted in their Q2-2020 Form 6Q filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that, while they anticipated some uncertainty around the L3 permitting process, “we do not anticipate any capital cost impacts that would be material to our financial position and outlook.” The Memo further notes that “it appears that Enbridge and its customers have agreed to allow Enbridge to recover the L3RP’s development costs on an ongoing basis, and that these costs are rolled into the overall tariff for use of the Mainline System.” [See quote below from Memo, page 45.]
That a decision in the Tribes’ favor would require a reversal. As noted above in item 1, the Tribes have “raised a number of important questions of law” necessitating a Stay because, as noted in the Memo, “If any one of these questions of law is decided in Tribes’ favor, the Commission’s error would be significant and require remand for a contested case hearing and decision in accordance with law. A stay pending resolution of judicial appeal is necessary to preserve these issues for judicial determination.”
A stay protects the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction. Because it concerns “actions that cannot be undone”, a stay of these orders is necessary until proceedings in the Court of Appeals can conclude whether “the Commission has violated the law, and if it has, to require Commission action in compliance with law. Absent a stay, it would be impossible for the Court of Appeals to exercise its jurisdiction here.” As the Court of Appeals would favor a Stay “where its jurisdiction will be lost, the Commission should stay the L3RP Orders pending a decision by the Court of Appeals.”
The balance of equities favors a Stay. A Stay would prevent the Tribal appeals from becoming moot, protect Tribes from irreparable harms (in this instance, death), not cause irreparable or disproportionate harms to the Applicant (Enbridge) [if Tribal appeals are not affirmed], preserves important questions of law, and serves the public interest protecting both the judiciary jurisdiction and the health and welfare of the public (again, from literal death).
Tribes are extremely concerned about the potential for construction of the L3RP to exacerbate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently ravaging the people of northern Minnesota and worsening by the day. Importing thousands of workers from out-of-state and moving thousands more within the state during the ongoing surge in infections increases the risk that Tribal members will contract COVID-19, including the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions that substantially increase the risk of severe infection and death.”
Argument Section I.I The Balance of Equities Favors a Stay (p. 53)
Given Enbridge’s past and planned capacity additions, the ongoing reduction in demand for its services, the dramatic worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the likely long-term suppression of North American and global oil demand, it is unlikely that Enbridge’s customers will need the additional capacity that would be provided by the L3RP in 2021, and very likely they will never need more import capacity on the Mainline System than currently exists.”
Argument Section I.C.2 (p. 45)
There is a final section on why the PUC may not require a security bond, in large part because of Tribal exemption, before requests for Relief in the form of a Stay to the Line 3 PUC Orders pending the 2020 Appeals and a denial of any security bond Enbridge might present and a final appeal for an Expedited Decision.
As COVID-19 ravages Northern Minnesota, it seems clear that a Stay MUST be granted if – as Governor Walz is fond of reminding us – Minnesota hopes to preserve the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of its citizens.
The messaging is mixed, that is clear. Yet it is consistent in maintaining conflicting standards. MDH can take a day off while workers caring for victims of the pandemic cannot. And while Minnesotans are on a new lock-down, Enbridge seems free to flood the state with their workers, many who are coming from COVID-19 hot-spot states like Texas, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Black Friday’s figures showed our highest death count yet – 101 in a single day. Some thought it was a combination of Wednesday and Thursday data but, the @Minnesota Department of Health reported: “In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, we did not update the data on this page on Thursday, Nov. 26. Today’s post will be for data as of Wednesday, Nov. 25.” I’m not expecting much good news, though weekends do tend toward lower figures. Perhaps that is what drives our misunderstanding of the dangers?
The human brain finds exponential growth difficult to fathom, so communities across the country and around the world have found themselves fine one day and completely overwhelmed the next.
Here in Minnesota, our first thousand COVID-19 dead occurred over four to five months (May 30); the second thousand in four months (Sept. 26). Our third thousand died in just the past 7.5 weeks (Nov. 18). And if the trend continues, we’ll exceed 4,000 dead by Christmas… or sooner.
If you’re a local politician pushing for Line 3, have you considered how many of your constituents you are willing to sacrifice to a Canadian oil corporation?”
I suspect, I may have been far too generous with my original thought of Santa Lucia harkening the arrival of our 4000th COVID-19 death here in Minnesota. At the rate we’re going, I’m not sure she’s gonna wait until December.
Update: Today’s MN COVID figures – for Thursday and Friday – showed a 25.1% positivity rate but lower than expected figures… perhaps due to the holiday? Perhaps due to limited staff? Surely coming days will inform. Here’s the details:
9040 new infections (466 probable cases)… here’s the counties along the pipeline proposed route:
Aitkin 36/0, Becker 59/0, Beltrami 90/1, Carlton 63/8, Cass 50/1, Clearwater 23/0, Crow Wing 86/5, Hubbard 44/0, Itasca 62/0, Kanabec 38/1, Kittson 11/0, Mahnomen 6/0, Marshall 26/0, Mille Lacs 45/1, Morrison 39/1, Norman 11/0, Otter Tail 116/3, Pennington 13/1, Pine 32/3, Polk 102/4, Red Lake 2/1, Roseau 36/2, St. Louis 262/28, Todd 45/0, Wadena 27/0
60 of the 466 probable cases are along the pipeline route – where FEW ppl live, compared to the Cities (Anoka & Hennepin accounted for 160 of the cases)
45 new dead … Split between LT care and private homes. Only one under 65 yo. Losing a bunch of our elders today – a dozen over 90 yo. Low day along route counties, thank goodness and… RIP: Carlton 1, Clearwater 1, Hubbard 1, Kittson 1, Morrison 2, Otter Tail 2, Todd 1
Well, I’ve been focusing in recent blogs on the failings of Minnesota government (from the PUC – yeah, them – to the MEQB to the MPCA to the Governor) to protect not only the environment, but citizens as well. This week I thought a HARN update would be good as many use this time of year to give thanks.
Though it’s a hard time to be thankful as we watch cases and dead continue to pile up this week along the proposed Line 3 corridor, more and more voices are speaking on the subject, and that gives me gratitude.
Minnesotans are calling the Governor (1-800-657-3717), the Attorney General (1-800-657-3787), and now the Minnesota Department of Health (1-800-657-3504) regarding the atrocity of continuing to support an unnecessary pipeline project during a pandemic. Flooding northern Minnesota – and its fragile health care resources – with thousands of pipeliners from states like Texas and North Dakota can only be described as INSANE, when you are, at the SAME FUCKING TIME, dialing back the citizens of said region as Governor Walz is doing. How that is not negligent homicide is beyond me.
Our nearest neighbors — North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin— are experiencing some of the highest nationwide per capita increases in COVID-19 cases, and 48 states are now in the Task Force “Red Zone” for new COVID-19 cases. It is simply not a good time for out-of-state travel that is anything short of essential, so this Order clarifies my recommendation that Minnesotans refrain from unnecessary out-of-state travel for the next four weeks and self-quarantine upon their return if they do decide to travel.”
We have to STAY HOME but it’s OK for… thousands of pipeliners from these “hot” states to come HERE… for an UNESSENTIAL TAR SANDS PIPELINE? WTF?
No amount of industry protocols can protect if we’re seeing nurses and doctors, in the most critically sanitized workplaces, falling to this illness. Community spread is a real thing and, with limited enforcement or willingness in this region to wear a mask [even among those who should know better (FFS)], we are all at high risk.
So I spent the last week writing about this, calling folks myself, praying at the river, and seeing what I can do to help mitigate the dangers that COVID-19 and Enbridge’s Tar Sands Pipeline threaten. I got confirmation today of one LTE that WILL be printing!!! So… not for naught I guess.
And… we got a KITTEN!!!
This is Gaazhagens (Ojibwemowin for Cat), Gaazh (or Gaazhii) for short!
He’s VERY HAPPY today as a package arrived from my mom (Thanks, Mom!!) with lots of goodies. So far we opened one that he spent LOTS of time on… until he was exhausted! I replaced the crazy red flashy ball with a golf ball for my own sanity but late night disco ball will come out tonight! (Thanks, Dad! I wondered what the box of golfballs would be good for when I cleaned up the HARN in preparation for Gaazh… now I know! I have no doubt he will be able to pull it from the groove in no time! We’ll need replacements.)
The biggest issue is his eating. Gaazh is a rescue cat [Thanks, Ralph & Paulette Friday!] and he eats like everything MUST BE KILLED and INHALED. He is learning to slow down. Even chewing sometimes!
The decision to bring in a new roomie was predicated on cleaning and rearranging the entire house.
This was cathardic, calorie-burning, and, in the end, energizing! It’s so nice to have everything organized again. And dusted! Chests have been swept clear of underlying dustbunnies, the living/craft room is now one giant space instead of divided (…may that bring good unifying energy for all!), and Gaazh has his own private bathroom space! I am loving the little hand vac we picked up at a sale somewhere for $3 as it helps keep the minimal litter in front of the box swept up – or was that gifted to us by someone else who spent the $3? Who knows… I’m even doing dishes more than once a week now as we keep things organized… for as long as possible!
We don’t use many dishes here… though Gaazh has made clear that dishes on the counter are his… once everyone goes to bed!! Dan tried leaving out leftovers the first night and someone left little tongue prints in the dish after flipping back the towel over it. Three times! 😀
GG is so little but he sure can tear through – pushing rugs and such this way and that – as he speeds through the HARN. And I’m sure he’ll be a big cat before we know it but for today, we’re enjoying how tiny and fun he is. And preparing him to be a lap kitty as much as we can. Every body brings good warmth to the HARN.
Wishing you all good warmth in this season of thanks.
And giving thanks for a good year… regardless of all that we’ve been through. There is good in every day. And every thing. And every one.
Before it’s 2 late. I don’t want to be the last 1 alive. Sorry, couldn’t help continue the countdown, which is what it feels like here every day.
How many days until we see massive health care breakdown? We’re losing a Minnesotan an hour and then some to Covid. Yet Governor Walz STILL will not speak about delaying the project.
Even on Almanac, he talked COVID, but not that pipeline project. But you know who did? Winona LaDuke. And she had a lot of good things to say.
Walz said on Friday the 13th’s Almanac that it will be 3 weeks until we hit 300K dead in the US. I’m guessing he might be underestimating that – what with exponential growth. Yet he STILL refuses to DELAY Line 3.
It’s not hard, you know. Just clarifying Executive Order 20-20, which was put into place way back in March – the early days of the pandemic – and accurately NOT MENTIONING Petroleum Pipeline Construction as part of the Essential Worker staff.
Governor Walz could add some simple clarification verbiage like this:
Whereas, Northern Minnesota has minimal and rudimentary Health Care facilities and trained COVID-19 care professionals,
Whereas, tar sands as a commodity has a current 400,000 barrel/day excess of pipeline capacity for current demand making a new tar sands pipeline that would carry only 370,000 bpd unnecessary at this time, and
Whereas, an influx of 3600 out-of-area pipeline construction workers would create an undue risk for COVID-19 community spread with their need for housing, food, and entertainment off the work-site, and
Whereas, Enbridge has been clear in their calls with local officials that they can only enforce social distancing rules on their own worksites, not offsite or in community, where COVID-19 is likely to be spread to local populations and worker families, and
Whereas, the health and care of the People of Minnesota is my paramount concern and responsibility, and
Whereas, Minnesota is currently seeing an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths which is becoming difficult to even monitor, let alone treat,
Now, therefore, as Governor, I declare that a postponement of the Line 3 project until the pandemic can be brought under control, is necessary and prudent.”
Here’s the verbiage that could help us the DELAY Line 3 project to save lives in Minnesota.
But, I’m not holding my breath… though I am staying home. And masking up if I do venture anywhere.
Minnesota Public Broadcasting’s Almanac program (sponsored by Enbridge) hosted Governor Walz (7:30-17:58) and Winona LaDuke (33:30-40:09; including the Enbridge disclaimer… and Winona snagging an extra 10 seconds of messaging!!), though only ONE of them had the courage to speak of the risks the Line 3 project brings to Minnesota.
In addition to some interested political maneuvers by Republicans, they’ve appointed a Democrat as the Senate Leader (this is how corrupted Dems are to Republican corporate support here in MN?).
What did Governor Walz have to say?
It took 7 months to hit 100K dead, 7 weeks to hit 200K dead, and he predicts we will reach 300K dead within about next three weeks. [That’s December 6th, in case anyone wants to keep track.]
71% of cases in last 8 weeks are from gatherings, bars & restaurants. In other words, Community Spread. Guidance this week is 10 ppl max, 3 families max. More than 1 person or family is a chance for spread.
Upper Midwest is about 120 cases/100K; 150+/100K in the Dakotas and… no health care system can sustain that. MUST Stop the Spread.
Almanac’s Eric Eskola asks a good question at 11:12 and Tim answers: “If this saves one Minnesotan’s life, I’ll make those hard decisions.”
“I will continue to do all I can, as I said from the beginning of this, to protect the safety, uh, the health, and the well-being of Minnesotans.” (11:51)
THEN WHY WILL YOU NOT DELAY THIS TAR SAND PIPELINE PROJECT? THAT alone could save HUNDREDS or THOUSANDS of lives in the long run. Sadly, you seem NOT to have the courage to do it. Perhaps you are unwilling to risk political capital to save Northern Minnesota lives? Is is just cause we’re a bunch of rocks and cows up here? And a few Indians we haven’t yet managed to slaughter off with our white supremacy colonizing culture? Yes, this IS how FUCKING PISSED I am about your diffidence.
You know, Tim, bringing thousands of out-of-area workers into MN – from ND, OK, TX, WI – all hot spots – makes it certain that you’ll definitely be bringing increased risk to rural MN where we do NOT HAVE THE HOSPITAL and HEALTH CARE WORKERS to support this influx of population. Especially not when we’re already facing shortages on housing – which will only be exacerbated by Enbridge workers coming in with bigger paychecks than many have here and gobbling up housing? How many Minnesotans will freeze to death in their vehicles as Enbridge workers are housed in places they might have otherwise stayed?
11:19 – Walz: “…if this saved one Minnesotan’s life, I’ll make those hard decisions” – well I call BS. You could ANY MOMENT say that Minnesota is going to PAUSE 4 PANDEMIC on an UNNECESSARY pipeline project. And you have YET to do so. And another 31 dead Sunday in Minnesota. We only had 12 new dead today, which is typical for Mondays, typically our lowest day of the week for reporting. [Last Sunday, Monday, Tuesday was 31, 19, 23… then 56 on 11/11, if that portends anything.]
Walz gets the updates at 9PM for the day – wish I could have that data then… I get the massaged 7-day rolling average… that disguises the exponentiality of these growing numbers.
Duluth Mayor, Emily Larson, in St. Louis County, was asked about emergency rotation on the police department due to rolling outages of personnel. The Mayor noted:
43% of ppl testing are 15-29. [Uh, because we’re not seeing cooperation from older people for GETTING tested? Or because they are the ones doing much of the community work? What with likely older professionals working from home?]
All schooling is going to digital… where many children do not have technology broadband connectivity – creating disproportionate learning for those with less resources – “yet bars are still open”. (19:59) [Yeah, we’re sacrificing our children to hedonism.]
Restarted weekly updates to keep citizens updated and share information. (21:30) [Weekly often enough?]
And finally, noting ~180 staff in Duluth PD w/157 sworn officers, they’ve had 26 cases in the department to date, with quarantines also. 23 since October. Indicative of what we’re seeing across MN. Alt work schedule taking people off investigations to patrol, working 5-days on, 10-days off. Trying to keep up with investigations. Process kept cases low when pandemic started. [Uh, so, we’re seeing our public safety personnel being taken out of commission as WELL as our health care professionals?]
Next up was Dr. Rahul Koranne (head of MN Hospital Assn) on staffing. We have beds… but concern is number of professionals getting exposed to the virus. (26:30) A spot check Wednesday showed over 6000 heroes out of service in our hospitals. Everyone is looking for same agency nurses so no relief is to be found outside the state. Control of spread is key. A discussion on rationing of care (27:42) found Dr. Koranne saying, “A patient, a Minnesotan that needs a hospital care is getting it.” He also noted that 1 in 4 ICU beds is COVID. 16% of medical surgical has COVID. Heart attacks, strokes, cancers still being managed. [As I consider exponential growth, I foresee a real ripping out of the rug any moment. Did you see Texas is starting with the refrigerated trailers for the dead? Lucky it’s cold in Minnesota?] “Trying to coordinate across the state. … Some patients have to be transported great distances and that’s what a pandemic will do.” I am not feeling confident. Are you?
Even the funny part of Almanac wasn’t funny to me. Sheletta Brundidge did her best and, if it weren’t for the way adults CONTINUE to IGNORE the CLIMATE CRISIS as if we can just keep going on with life as we’ve known it… I might have laughed. But I couldn’t… as she spoke about “kids day” and assumed her child would ask for less “chores, ice creams instead of veggies, and unlimited piggy back rides.” I’m guessing she’d rather have you save the planet’s ability to support human life.
Then we go to Winona. And she talks some REAL TRUTH.
Enbridge has cut the EQUIVALENT of a NEW Line 3 and has NO NEED with 400K barrels/day excess capacity at present. (34:06) [And likely forever?] Enbridge doesn’t need this pipeline and oil production is down.
Nowhere else are pipeline projects getting approved. Keystone problems, Constitution never got approved, and Michigan’s Governor Whitmer just withdrew the easement for Enbridge’s Line 5. (35:00)
And, when challenged by (again, idiot) Eric on the politics of it all, turning the tables to this being a Challenge of Enlightenment. World, and even MN has a commitment to cutting greenhouse gasses and moving to renewables… this makes no sense.
Regarding Covid (36:30): “The GOVENOR is APPROVING TO BRING 4200 out-of-state workers into northern Minnesota from Louisiana, Texas, Wyoming, and all around the country, during a Pandemic. [Like FKN Seriously, Tim Walz?] Into the poorest counties in the state of Minnesota already struggling – like Aitkin County where we have 5600 at-risk people who are older – with 4 ICU beds? Why import 4200 pipeliners, “who are already social prospecting for dates on social media and wandering through the stores in northern Minnesota without masks on?” Yeah, Walzy, WTF?
Line 3 didn’t make sense then, why now, with oil at $-38/barrel? “Why would you do that to Minnesota… to us?” (37:30)
Carol Wurzer asks if massive protests are expected (37:37) and Winona assured her the project will be met with resistance [YEP] and that people will be masked up. She further explains that SHE is “not in charge of the resistance”. “Librarians that chained themselves and closed down… the pipelines up in Clearbrook” and “Catholics closed it down after that”.
In a time of climate disaster, after noting 70K people testified against this pipeline, she says, “Nobody thinks this is a good idea except for, apparently Governor Walz and Enbridge.” (38:05) and she say Whitmer has the right idea, “Don’t let risky Canadian corporations, you know, put a gun to your head and say that we need a new pipeline. Instead, say, “Close your stuff down. Let’s move on.” [Yes, Ma’am!]
She further explains how Red Lake Nation is implementing solar and her tribe is putting up another 200 kW of solar. (38:30) So why is Minnesota’s SINGLE LARGEST ENERGY CONSUMER… ENBRIDGE? Because it takes a lot of energy to move sludge. If we don’t have unnecessary pipelines, we can also quit putting up unnecessary electricity and focus on doing what IS necessary for PEOPLE, eh?
The final question (38:55) on economics is addressed with perhaps my favorite analogy (I always go to drug dealers for mine – kinda feel like Enbridge is just a dealer for addicts):
The fact is that we’ve got the poorest counties and Enbridge is slathering out a hundred million dollars worth of money, and you know they should have slathered that out a long time ago cause they got six pipelines across the north and all kinds of leaks. The single largest leak was actually in Grand Rapids.
So, you know, there’s some people that are… that are up there trying to get some money because it’s a really difficult time in the north. But, you know what? It’s kinda like getting a job in the gas chamber. That’s a great job to have but it’s really not the job you wanna have over the long term. And that’s what this pipeline is like. It’s like… the ecological equivalent to Auswitz. That’s what this pipeline is.”
Good luck, Everybody. Especially if you live in a community where government leaders are aligned with the oil interests more than they are their human constituents. [Is that all of us?]
Good luck, especially to Northern Minnesota as you are inundated with unnecessary pipeline construction workers. Stay inside, because Enbridge (and many local law enforcement officers up here, best I can tell by the non-enforcement of mask mandates and other concerns) aren’t willing and/or able to control these itinerant workers off the job-site. And a most prayerful wish for all the women and girls along the pipeline corridor, and all the relatives young and old, to be protected.
My best hope is for a Pause4Pandemic on the Line 3 project. The MPCA may say they are “protecting our environment”…
… while sacrificing our health care workers… and really all of us. Approving this pipeline project, on the assumption of Need provided by the PUC – now facing so many court battles, I’m losing count on this project, though most recently regarding Enbridge’s lies during testimony for the project – is truly negligent.
Paul Blackburn had to explain to them how the law works in a subsequent memo, later the same day. He beautifully explained to the PUC how Minnesota law actually works. I will walk you through it all here.
Will Seuffert, Executive Secretary of the PUC, appears to be in over his head – or is it Chair Katie Sieben directing the show erroneously? This comment period Notice is full of issues as Paul states in his response memo requesting clarity on the PUC posting. As a long-time follower and deep reader of the Line 3 documentation, I was immediately struck by what appears to be a request from the PUC to Enbridge asking them to explain THE PUC’s OWN JURISDICTION TO THEM. WTF??? [I mean, we all know the PUC has bent over backwards to accommodate Enbridge’s storyline but are they now allowing them to determine Minnesota law?]
In Paul’s response, it is made clear that the PUC is confusing the issue and violating the processes given by Minnesota statutes.
When and if the PUC finds it does have jurisdiction and files to secure a 20-day response from Enbridge on the complaint… (not the PUC’s jurisdiction), they also MUST provide a 30-day public comment period on which procedures should be followed – contested case hearing, informal proceeding, expedited proceeding, “as well as give notice of a 10-day reply public comment period for responses to the initial procedural comments. The 30-day public comment period allows commenters to see Enbridge’s answer before filing their initial comments. In such notice, the Commission should also provide public notice of the right to file a petition to intervene in the complaint proceeding.” In THAT situation, HTE is provided a chance to respond (also within 20 days), to Enbridge’s response on their Complaint.
Only after ALL THAT has been done can the PUC determine which procedure to use to resolve the complaint. Once they order said procedure, they also must rule on all petitions to intervene, if any.
There is no reason for the PUC to ask Enbridge if they have jurisdiction as Minn. R. 7829.1800, subp. 1 says the Commission shall determine jurisdiction and whether there are reasonable grounds to investigate the allegation. Minn. R. 7829.1800, subp. 2 says that IF the Commission finds the above to be true [and this MUST be done BEFORE they file to the respondent (Enbridge)], they THEN serve the complaint to the respondent… for an answer within 20 days.
Under the regulations, it is not appropriate for the Commission to seek comment on jurisdiction and whether reasonable grounds exist at the same time that it has apparently (albeit without a formal order) required an answer within 20 days from Enbridge.
Service of a complaint and order is not the same thing as issuing a notice for a “comment” period. The Notice, therefore, appears to conflate the reply period to the answer required by Minn. R. 7829.1800, subp. 3, with the reply period to initial comments period provided by Minn. R. 7829.1900, subp. 3.”
Indeed. The new Executive Secretary of the PUC appears to be unaware of the expected procedures given by the Minnesota Legislature in statute. In addition, Paul clarifies that “there is no right for other parties to reply” on the Complaint as that is reserved for the Complainant (Honor the Earth).
As is made clear in Minn. R. 7829.1900 COMMISSION ACTION ON FORMAL COMPLAINT; COMMENTS, the process requires the PUC to 1) determine the nature of the proceedings, 2) allow initial comments within 30 days of the commission order requiring answer to the complaint (complainant, respondent, Office of AG and any other known parties), 3) Allow reply comments for 10-days after that, and 4) allow for intervention by additional parties (said petition may be combined with the comments on the complaint).
Paul notes several possible outcomes the PUC may have been intending…
Establishing a public comment period? Oops. Didn’t include the word “public” and the Notice states the deadline for comment is limited to those “Enbridge” provides to answer HTE’s complaint. [However, Minn. R. 7829.1900 subps. 2 & 3 state that any “person” may comment on the procedures to be used.]
If intended as a public comment period, the PUC used the wrong LENGTH of comment period as statute requires “30 days”, not 20. [As Paul puts it, “Thus, if the Notice was a proper way to order an answer, which it is not, then the initial public comment deadline would be 30 days after November 5, or December 7 (given the weekend), and the reply comments would be due ten days after that, or December 17.”]
IF the intention was for a public comment period, Paul additionally notes, “the Notice incorrectly states that reply comments are limited to replies to just Enbridge’s answer; whereas Minn. R. 7829.1900, subp. 3, states that public reply comments “must be limited in scope to the issues raised in the initial comments” (emphasis added).”
Finally, if this is intending a public comment period, then it “fails to provide notice that any “person” may file a petition to intervene pursuant to Minn. R. 7829.1900, subp. 4. The lack of clarity in the notice and its failure to comply with the clear language of Minn. R. 7829.1800 and 1900, creates ambiguity about whether the notice initiates the intervention period or not.” [I sure love how Paul words things.]
Among the many problems with the PUC’s action are:
Creation of confusion as to the Commission’s intention, which also is unclear in its adherence to current Minnesota statutes.
Potentially provides too little time and prejudices commenters who would not have access to Enbridge’s answer before filing their complaints.
Improperly limits the scope of responses to the complaint.
Fails to provide a notice for rights to intervention.
Continues with the PUC’s failure to follow public participation requirements in the state of Minnesota (as found by the Office of Legilative Auditors earlier this year).
What should be done?
Honor the Earth requests that the PUC “withdraw the Notice and instead follow the process contained in the regulations.” I’d agree this is what we should expect from the PUC:
Make a preliminary jurisdictional and reasonable-grounds decision.
Issue an Order finding the Complaint within its jurisdiction and that the Complaint states reasonable grounds.
Serve this order and the Complaint on Enbridge and inform it of its right to file an answer within 20 days.
Provide a public notice of a 30-day initial public comment period and a 10-day public comment reply period on the appropriate procedures to be followed.
Provide a public notice of the intervention period.
Issue an order identifying the appropriate hearing procedure for the Complaint.
Paul’s closing paragraph ends with an appropriate notice to the PUC:
The public has a right to expect that the Commission will follow its own procedural rules and be clear about public participation rights.
Let’s start with an explanation a second-grader could understand on Line 3 happenings last week: Healing Minnesota Stories blog, The pipeline company that cried “Wolf!’. Their simple explanation tells how Enbridge has continued to plea that they NEED a NEW pipeline… all while ALREADY SHIPPING more crude than they hope to add with said new pipeline! In fact, Enbridge currently has an EXCESS of unused capacity equal to MORE than the NEW Line 3 would be able to ship for them! Yet the powers that be still fail to listen. [And Enbridge has plans to expand MORE… FFS.]
Surprise, Surprise! We DON’T have to build a new Line 3 AFTER ALL!
Honor the Earth‘s Paul Blackburn and Frank Bibeau have filed a Complaint and Petition for Investigation regarding Enbridge’s mainline system capacities. It seems Enbridge has been less than forthcoming with their true mainline system capacities!
The filing opens quickly to the heart of the concern:
In the first quarter of 2020, before the pandemic impacted oil demand, U.S. federal and Canadian crude oil shipment data shows that in the first quarter of 2020 Enbridge successfully operated its Mainline System at a flow rate of over 2.8 million barrels per day (“bpd”) on a sustained basis. This flow is approximately 400,000 bpd more crude oil than the maximum effective Mainline System capacity claimed by Enbridge during the L3RP evidentiary hearings of 2.4 million bpd. It is also more oil than the net increase in capacity that would be provided by the Line 3 Replacement Project (“L3RP”) of 370,000 bpd, should it be constructed.
The petition goes on… “The evidence presented herein shows that:
Enbridge started its effort to add capacity to the Mainline System in 2016, before the L3RP evidentiary hearing;
Enbridge was able to transport 2.6 million bpd in November 2017, at the time of the evidentiary hearing, approximately 200,000 bpd more oil than its experts claimed was possible;
Enbridge continued its capacity addition efforts during the remainder of the L3RP hearing process; and
Enbridge is continuing to this day to add capacity through upgrades and efficiency improvements.”
And notes also:
With regard to its ongoing capacity addition efforts, Enbridge seeks to further increase Mainline System capacity through its imminent capacity additions to Lines 4 and 67. In August 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a public notice of an air pollution permit application stating that Enbridge intends to increase the flow of crude oil through Lines 4 and 67 by a total of 178,400 bpd through efficiency-based measures. Once these capacity additions come online, the Mainline System would be able to transport approximately 600,000 bpd, a 25 percent capacity increase relative to the 2.4 million bpd cap claimed by Enbridge in the L3RP evidentiary hearing. Yet to Honor the Earth’s knowledge, Enbridge has not reported these completed and planned capacity increases to the Commission. Given that all of the quantitative need and apportionment data submitted by Enbridge in the L3RP docket (Docket No. PL9/CN-14-916) capped future Mainline System capacity at 2.4 million bpd through 2035, the fact that Enbridge now has the undeniable ability to ship more than 2.8 million bpd, and will shortly be able to ship approximately 3 million bpd, casts significant doubt on the efficacy of Enbridge’s forecasts. Since the Commission in Docket PL9/CN-14-916 did not consider the need for pipeline capacity beyond the 370,000 bpd of net capacity that would be provided by the L3RP, Enbridge through its efficiency-based capacity additions has apparently already met the commercial need for which the Commission approved the L3RP, and it will soon create additional capacity that will significantly exceed this need. The remarkable amount of additional capacity created by 3 Enbridge through efficiency improvements, optimization, and upgrades to existing pipelines has dramatically impacted the need for construction of a new pipeline.”
And just like that, we realize there is no longer a need for Line 3. Especially not when the still have another ~350K bpd in expansions they’re holding close to the vest… as this Attachment G figure from the Complaint and Petition for Investigation shows:
…the petition filed by Honor the Earth claims that capacity additions made by Enbridge between 2016 and 2019, including to lines 2, 4 and 65, have allowed the company to import an additional 400,000 barrels through Minnesota per day.
Honor the Earth also points to expansions to Lines 4 and 67 that would increase capacity by 178,400 barrels of crude oil per day.
Coupled with a decreased demand for Canadian crude oil due to COVID-19, the petition claims that the existing expansions outweigh the need for the Line 3 project, which it says would bring in 370,000 barrels per day.
“Together, these efficiency-based expansions create far more capacity than would be provided by the proposed Line 3 Pipeline’s net capacity increase of 370,000 bpd,” said Paul Blackburn, staff attorney for Honor the Earth, in a statement. “As a result, Enbridge has already met the need that formed the basis for the PUC’s approval of the Line 3 Replacement Project.”
Bottom line, Minnesota need not let Enbridge tear through Northern Minnesota Indian Country to put in a pipeline… especially not during a pandemic that is exploding up here in recent weeks.
If they move forward – ignoring the petition… it would seem that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission could – without TRUE consideration of DEMAND – force Minnesotans to pay for the installation of this new pipeline! [We all do pay for it as the oil companies are guaranteed a profit, meaning gas prices will be going up to justify the cost of the build… if it happens. It always amazes me how Enbridge can convince people that putting in a new pipeline will help them keep gas flowing… but never explains that, in order to make tar sands gas affordable, we’ll all be paying MUCH higher prices at the pump.]
This chart makes it pretty easy to see that Enbridge was lying. And… Enbridge isn’t denying the charges!
Calgary-based Enbridge said it has been adding capacity to its “mainline” across Minnesota through various improvements.
“There have been several initiatives that Enbridge has implemented in recent years to optimize its pipeline network to better meet customer demands,” the company said in a statement. “We’ve talked about these optimizations and efficiency-led capacity increases in a variety of public forums.”
AP reports Enbridge does not deny these increases to capacity. 10/30/20
While Enbridge’s website says nothing of this latest monkey wrench, they have posted about the great benefits they just delivered to North Dakota: “About 400 construction workers recently packed up their tools and departed the northeastern corner of North Dakota. What did they leave behind? A state-of-the-art energy pipeline—and plenty of community prosperity.” What?!? No mention of the COVID spike now killing North Dakotans? Wonder if the grieving will still find Enbridge’s work “worth it” when they realize the expenses of caring for their sick and burying their dead. Will those few weeks of Enbridge workers buying things in your store or spending money on your rental cover the cost of a casket?
Since August, when Enbridge work started in North Dakota, we’ve seen COVID escalate rapidly in the state:
And this weekend Bismark Tribune reported: “Seven counties — Cavalier, Griggs, Pembina, Ramsey, Rolette, Ward and Wells — posted record single-day new cases.” Pembina houses the Line 3 project and Cavalier is just next door. Thus far, Pembina has not reported any Covid dead.
What we know: Enbridge lied.
What we don’t yet know: How many will die because of their lies?