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While I had another idea for the blog this week, with all the news around the changing of administrations here in the U.S., I felt a general update was more in order. So, here’s what’s happening from my perspective.

Enbridge continues to build their Tar Sands Pipeline in Northern Minnesota – while many in the state continue to be largely unaware that it’s happening. Or that it’s happening SO QUICKLY. I spoke with a local familiar with previous pipeline projects who noted that the SPEED of this project is “breakneck… much faster than when Koch was installing their pipeline”. What could go wrong? Stuff like this. And this:

Pipe truck carrying three pipeline segments speeding into Bagley as Enbridge rushes to gain a new corridor.

On January 21st, we discovered Access Road 38B at the first of two proposed crossings of the Mississippi River. This is in the LaSalle Valley, which is depicted below in “Figure 15” with the proposed LaSalle Creek crossing.

While work at the second crossing is far more destructive thus far, it sure was horrible to see this as we’ve been happy to have quiet mostly since the State of Minnesota illegally approved this pipeline for construction.

The legal front is relatively quiet with the exception of Friends of the Headwaters submitting their challenge to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 404 permit this week. Please donate to support their work as the cases are far from over… regardless of how quickly Enbridge rushes to build a pipeline before the Minnesota Court of Appeals can stop them! Others have filed as well. [Full disclosure: I’ve submitted a Declarant Statement on that filing.] And Enbridge has intervened. This photo, a part of the submitted documents, shows the worst place to put a Tar Sands pipeline per Paul Stolen of the DNR. This is what we are working to protect.

Photo submitted as part of a federal court filing seeking an injunction against Line 3 construction.
Photo by Alexander Aman. Interpretation by Laura Triplett. From Healing MN Stories 1/23/21

The game is now one of waiting and watching. And what are we seeing? So many stories. I will keep it to a brief few.

DNR began enforcing an area, at the second proposed Mississippi River crossing by this abominable project, initially in response to people being in the area expressing their first amendment rights. This sign was soon put up to create a Exclusion Zone – apparently by Enbridge, creating a No Trespassing Zone and gobbling up public space… which is illegal.

This zone DOUBLES the easement for Enbridge making it illegal for any “normal people” to get close enough to see what is going on and complain.  Enbridge created a buffer zone against public scrutiny. 

LATER the DNR sticker appeared on the sign. and LATER still “ENBRIDGE ENERGY LLC” was whited out.

We are also hearing of vehicles being hooked up to tow trucks WHILE PEOPLE ARE STILL INSIDE THEM. No notice, just… We’re gonna take you and your car away! WTF!?!?

And at an early gathering, Water Protectors dispersed after a warning by Aitkin County Sheriff Department.  Some time later, and without a second dispersal order, DNR began rounding people up in the area, taking them to Aitkin County Jail where multiple problems were reported by Healing Minnesota Stories.

There are MANY and MORE DISTURBING stories to tell. And do you see Minnesota media covering these incidents? More on that at the end of the blog.

Meanwhile, the ugly face of the Minnesota Nice Deep North comes in the form of Representative Stauber in Washington, D.C. giving example of the audacity of white supremacy in a memo to his colleagues:

Tribes were quick to respond:

“(Y)our opposition to the first and only American Indian ever nominated to a cabinet position is likely to reverberate across Indian country,” said the letter to Stauber signed by Melanie Benjamin, Cathy Chavers, Robert F. Deschampe, Kevin R. Dupuis Sr., and Faron Jackson Sr. — tribal chairs representing, respectively, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

“Most concerning is that you did not consult with us as the sovereign federally recognized tribal governments in your district in advance of initiating this effort that has such a direct impact on us as your American Indian constituents,” the letter added.

Minnesota tribes blast Rep. Pete Stauber for opposing Interior nomination PR Enterprise 1-19-21

The U.S. Department of the Interior oversees management and conservation of most federal lands and natural resources.

A separate letter from the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, based in Wisconsin, referred to Stauber’s efforts as “unprecedented,” and “a direct affront” to Indian Country. The alliance worked hard to advance Haaland’s nomination, it said, and asked Stauber to “step back” from leading the campaign against Haaland. It referenced Stauber’s position on the House Committee on Natural Resources.

“We are unaccustomed to any member of Congress serving in a leadership position on a committee or subcommittee with jurisdiction over Indian tribes taking such a public role in leading an attack that diametrically opposes the wishes of nearly all of Indian country,” it wrote.”

Minnesota bands rip Pete Stauber for working to deny first Native American from joining US Cabinet Brady Slater | Jan 19th 2021

Well, Fuck Pete Stauber and his racist white supremacy agenda. Here’s hope for maybe saving the planet’s ability to maintain a habitat safe for humans? It sure looks and sounds like Biden is promising to do his best to make it so. Let’s hope that Haaland is appointed and… we have some good news already:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2021 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the appointment of Heather Dawn Thompson as Director of the Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) reporting to the Secretary of Agriculture. Thompson is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, a Harvard Law School graduate, and an expert in American Indian law, tribal sovereignty, and rural tribal economic development. With Thompson in place, USDA will return OTR directly under the Secretary, restoring the office’s important government-to-government role.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Heather Dawn Thompson as Director, Office of Tribal Relations

Meanwhile, Joe’s already starting to reverse the horrors of the last 4 years. Looks like his Executive Order on the Climate Crisis notes that the “heads of all agencies shall immediately review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions” that are inconsistent with Biden’s policy “to listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments; and to prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals. ” This work will be done using the “best science” thus protecting the “integrity of the Federal decision-making”.

Within 30 days of the date of this order, heads of agencies shall submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a preliminary list of any actions being considered … that would be completed by December 31, 2021, and that would be subject to OMB review.  Within 90 days of the date of this order, heads of agencies shall submit to the Director of OMB an updated list of any actions being considered … that would be completed by December 31, 2025, and that would be subject to OMB review. 

… (d) The Attorney General may, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, provide notice of this order and any actions taken … to any court with jurisdiction over pending litigation related to those agency actions identified … and may, in his discretion, request that the court stay or otherwise dispose of litigation, or seek other appropriate relief consistent with this order, until the completion of the processes described in this order.

(e)  In carrying out the actions directed in this section, heads of agencies shall seek input from the public and stakeholders, including State local, Tribal, and territorial officials, scientists, labor unions, environmental advocates, and environmental justice organizations.”

Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis

And… looks like Big Oil continues to suffer losses.

The International Energy Agency on Tuesday cut its 2021 global oil demand forecast, citing soaring Covid-19 cases and renewed lockdown measures that will further limit mobility.”

IEA cuts 2021 oil demand outlook as new Covid lockdowns weigh on fuel sales 1/19/21

Meanwhile, CBS Sunday Morning aired a piece on white middle-class climate refugees. Everyone can perhaps relate to the family from Paradise as each of us faces more potential for a climate disaster happening to us.

Sunday evening, the PBS Newshour spent most of their program on the TRUTH OF THE DANGERS of the Fossil Fuel industry. May Boeve from 350.org (6:20) gave REALLY good coverage of how Line 3 and DAPL are the SAME as KXL. You may recognize the “equivalent to 50 coal plant” reference – same as Line 3! Giving good credit to the Natives who started this work on KXL, and noting the alliance of folks across the board with that pipeline, just like we’re seeing here in Minnesota as more and more gather along the route to protest this bad idea. [10:40 is the focus on Line 3.] Governor Tim Walz is gonna have a hard time as Joe and his own state reps turn against his ongoing collusion with Enbridge to give them a new pipeline corridor through our lovely Indian country.

Later in the episode, it looks like Shell and BP are the places to buy gas? They pushed back on 45’s deregulation… [as they are DOING the improvements already? So those de-regs would favor the losers who weren’t? Thus boosting the part of the industry that is doing the LEAST for reducing GHG emissions.] Listen as the President of Shell gets honest. When Ari presses, Gretchen Watkins maintains. Great close for that show too – on the effect of the pandemic on a family.

And there’s MORE good news in Glick leading the FERC. And, in the spirit of reconciliation, let’s not forget that Trump put this guy there.

“The reason the commission doesn’t authorize construction in the absence in a permit is that it makes no sense to enable a developer to begin digging up land and laying down the pipe when it may be that the subsequent permit is never obtained or it may be that the route of the project has to change because of the conditions associated with the subsequent permit,” Glick said.

Glick has been consistent on that point, but he was joined in opposing Mountain Valley’s request by a commissioner who was sworn in last month, Allison Clements. The commission’s newest member, Mark C. Christie, abstained from voting.”

Federal commission slows Mountain Valley Pipeline Charleston Gazette-Mail 1-20-21
Federal commission slows Mountain Valley Pipeline Charleston Gazette-Mail 1-20-21

Let’s hope they feel that not-yet-recognized Treaty Rights are as important… in issuing an Injunction on the Line 3 project for the 404 Permit.

I want to close with a bit of a teaser. We got some really good insights today that may indicate we have an advantage over Enbridge in preventing their project from its most dangerous work. I will likely say more about this next week… or in an upcoming EMERGENCY Blog. For now, please keep hope. I know this is hard work and patience is wearing thin as we watch the destruction in our midst.

You know, I always wondered how Hilter happened and after 45, I can see how. I had also always wondered how the Homestead Strike was allowed to happen.

But that was in an era before we could all communicate immediately and widely.

Now it seems DNR, Aitkin County Sheriff Dan Guida, and his Deputies have allowed themselves to become Enbridge’s “Pinkerton” forces. Media has been used in this case as well with most Minnesota papers so beholden to Enbridge half-page ads that they cannot even bring themselves to go outside Enbridge terminology. They refer to this pipeline as a replacement. But this is NOT a RE-PLACEment – indicating in the SAME PLACE – but a RELOCATION of a pipeline. The goal is to secure a new corridor as the Leech Lake leases expire in just 8 years. And they have 6 pipelines to remove by then…

We’re not gonna let them.

Stay Brave.