Though Enbridge TESTIFIED in 2017 to being able to SAFELY run their current Line 3 – EVEN IF their new pipeline “replacement” project was NOT approved, the PUC used that basis – that their current Line 3 was UNSAFE – for their Line 3 approval order.
Now even Judges Jesson and Kirk appear similarly seduced. All were seemingly so bedazzled by the Enbridge narrative that they agreed it was “REASONABLE” that the MN Public Utilities Commission would agree to allow Enbridge’s new pipeline request… based on their current UNSAFE Line 3!!
It is surely an argument only a cat chasing its tail would comprehend!
One lone soul on the Minnesota Court of Appeals – celebrated Judge Peter Reyes – retained his wits and clearly demonstrated in both words and a simple chart how ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS the PUC had been in their decision.
It’s right in front of our noses and yet there has been no explanation by the PUC on how they made this LEAP to approve Line 3 while getting NONE of the data they’d gotten for their previously submitted Enbridge projects in 2008 and 2012.
How is that reasonable? How is it based on evidence? And how does it possibly adhere to the law? As Reyes notes, It Does Not. While the MN Department of Commerce approved previous projects, this one it did not. And rightfully so as is easily seen here:
Judge Reyes uses the term “arbitrary and capricious” multiple times throughout his dissent. This is a touchy legal term so it feels almost like he’s really rubbing in the point that this is so CLEARLY a violation of the law… or perhaps he’s expressing how amazed he is to be standing alone in his Dissent opinion? It’s clearly stated here.
In sum, Enbridge knows how to provide demand forecast data in a certificate-of need application, yet conspicuously chose not to do so here. The PUC knows how to evaluate demand forecast data and has in the past, but did not to do so here. The inescapable conclusion is that the PUC acted arbitrarily or capriciously by granting the certificate of need unsupported by substantial evidence. Because we afford an agency no deference if its findings are arbitrary and capricious or unsupported by substantial evidence, I would reverse the PUC’s order granting Enbridge a certificate of need.
Judge Reyes’ Dissent on MN Court of Appeals case challenging PUC approval of Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement project
When the picture is this easy to see, why is it Enbridge seems to be able to continue their progress?
Want to know more about this brilliant and brave Justice?
Among his recognitions, Minnesota Lawyer named Judge Reyes as one of the “Top Ten Minnesota Attorneys of the Year” in 2001, one of the “Attorneys of the Year” in 2012, 2016, and 2017, and as a recipient of the inaugural “Diversity & Inclusion Award” in 2017. In 2012 and 2013, Poder Magazine named him as one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America.
Judge Reyes received the Ohtli Award in 2016, the highest award given out by the Mexican government to a non-Mexican citizen. He received the “HNBA Latino Judge of the Year Award” in 2018. And in 2019, Judge Reyes received the “MHBA Courage in Leadership Award” and the ABA 2019 “Spirit of Excellence Award.”
Thank goodness for the brave ones. Judge Reyes, you have my heart.
Appointed to the Court of Appeals by Governor Mark Dayton, April 7, 2014. Elected in 2016. Current term expires January 2023. William Mitchell College of Law, Juris Doctor, cum laude (1997) University of St. Thomas, Bachelor of Arts, Major: Chemistry, Minor: Biology
You and PUC Commissioner Schuerger seem in need of more brave ones in the Minnesota government to join you. I hope they do. Perhaps whistle-blowers in State agencies were awaiting the logic of your reasoning? Will we see the Department of Commerce again pursue the case. It seems unlikely in the horrific Walz administration which he continues to fill with corporation-friendly and environmentally ignorant appointments.
Meanwhile, the PUC is now screwing over landowners as well as Tribes in Minnesota? Sounds like Enbridge used the same $10/foot figure to fuck over Canadians too! Yet the PUC doesn’t agree landowners are getting hosed… Basically, Enbridge is giving landowners a pittance (1% of the cost of removal) if they agree to keep the old pipeline in place…but doesn’t sound like many of them understood the bargaining power they had with Enbridge. A story with a long history here in MN… Enbridge selling lies. And getting away with it. Makes one wonder if Enbridge is the only one making out in these deals… I mean, what’s in it for the PUC to continue fucking us all over like this?
Published in Bench & Bar of Minnesota, the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association, the piece lays out exactly how the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission FAILED to heed the public voice – even stifled it to the greatest degree it could, despite huge public outcry on the Line 3 project’s risks.
This is only Part 1 in a 2-part series so I anxiously await the second half of her critique. From the article: “This is the first installment of a two-part article exploring structural bias and racism within the law in the context of the Line 3 oil pipeline expansion. Part 1 examines the agency approval process and the role of the public in that process. Part 2 explores the racialized impact of that facially neutral approval in the context of Minnesota’s legal history.“
Now, it seems the entire world may be pushing back as we see global decisions in opposition to the continuation of Big Oil’s consumption of our carbon budget. And that could spur their many opponents across the U.S., especially across the Northern Midwest as Enbridge faces pushback from Minnesota through Wisconsin to Michigan. Citizens are speaking up across the region… on a national platform.
The tides seem to be turning as, just this past week, we saw Exxon get slapped with reality…
Market reality has finally collided with the most important U.S. energy company. Yesterday, Exxon Mobil shareholders elected at least two of the dissident directors proposed by the activist hedge fund Engine No. 1. Investors have lost patience with the basic business assumption that oil and gas will rule forever. But investor confidence in corporate boards is eroding on other contentious public policies issues as well. Boards should take note.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC must slash its greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels, The Hague District Court ruled in a decision that could reverberate around the world.
“This is a turning point in history,” Roger Cox, a lawyer for the nonprofit Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said in a statement after the decision. “This case is unique because it is the first time a judge has ordered a large polluting corporation to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. This ruling may also have major consequences for other big polluters.”
Among the most far-reaching aspects of this ruling is the court’s order for how Shell must account for its emissions, …(taking) account of what are known in climate parlance as Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Shell must consider the emissions of its parent company, all its global subsidiaries, all its suppliers, and all its customers across the entire chain of its enterprise everywhere that it operates throughout the globe.
That would include, for example, the climate-harming emissions released when it … builds a pipeline… and when its consumers burn its gasoline in their cars, trucks, or airplanes. When every one of these sources is considered, the court said, Shell’s global emissions must decline by nearly 50 percent over 2019 levels in just nine years. …
The ruling will also likely increase the risk calculation that investors, policymakers, financiers, and others apply to fossil-fuel activities… The individual responsibility component, argues lawyer Roger Cox, may also increase the likelihood that individual corporate executives and board members are held liable for a company’s harmful activities, further increasing the risks associated with fossil fuels.
Others see a clear pathway to U.S. climate litigation. Calling the court’s decision “earth-shaking”, Kathy Mulvey of the Union of Concerned Scientists notes… The essence of the Dutch court’s ruling, she says, is that “if you dig it up and sell it and profit from it, you’re responsible for it.”
Dr. Geoffrey Supran, research fellow at Harvard University, agrees. In an email, he called the “individual responsibility” aspect of the ruling “a game-changer,” which “legally and rhetorically inverts Big Oil’s decades-long propaganda campaign” to switch responsibility for the climate crisis from themselves to individual consumers.
“It is precisely this sort of corporate accountability, for the climate damages caused by Big Oil’s products, that dozens of cities, counties, and states are seeking in U.S. climate litigation. So, in my view, this Shell verdict provides powerful precedent,” Supran argues.
The Shell case now joins a burgeoning international body of law conferring the basic and fundamental human right to survive the climate crisis and hold fossil-fuel companies accountable for causing it. Critical to this broad and increasingly successful movement was the decades-long struggle of Indigenous peoples to secure the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which confirms rights not only to their lands but also the natural resources found on and within it.
So let’s hope those globally turning tides will bring us a verdict soon that stop the Line 3 project from any further devastation. I’m especially concerned as we see evidence of high Covid cases in Alberta pipeliners and we watch anxiously as the India variant makes its way around the world. That, however, is a topic for another day.
The Intermill piece rekindles hope that at least some in the Minnesota judiciary comprehend the reasons why the Enbridge project is such a gross negligence of the public. She opens with an overview of perhaps the most horrific of days in this process – the “gun to our head” day, as is how the Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioners explained their fear causing them to support granting Enbridge’s order.
Jessica then goes on to explain the history of the Public Utilities Commission:
Since its beginning, the PUC’s predecessor agencies prioritized expansion of cheap utilities—often over public opposition.
One of the earliest “public interests” that Minnesota courts identified was railroad expansion. That interest was so strong that it displaced otherwise ordinary landowner remedies like ejectment.9
The PUC traces its origin to this interest. Its ancestral predecessor was established by 1871 legislation that began with rail safety inspections, but just three years later turned to railroad-rate oversight. An 1885 law continued to focus on rate discrimination without any countervailing concern that utility expansion could undermine other public interests. But even then, contemporary critics noted that expansion of utilities like railroads prioritized the interests of capital over people. A 1907 political cartoon showed railroad baron J. J. Hill demur at the “timid creature” while the railroad industry knocked “the public” off its feet.
In turning to Line 3, Intermill notes several reasons for denying the project including, 1) the greenhouse gas concerns for the project, 2) the infringement on Indigenous population in Minnesota, and 3) even the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s own opposition to the project, which concluded:
“in light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.”
Not only did the PUC FAIL to recognize the Department of Commerce (currently suing the PUC in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, alongside other opposition parties), they also failed to heed the Administrative Law Judge assigned to oversee and review the public input on the project.
[The ALJ] conducted 16 hearings across the state attended by about 5,500 people, building a record of public comment from 724 speakers that was over 2,600 pages long. In each city, she held separate hearings in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate the schedules of people who work both days and nights. After the three-month process, she completed a 300-plus-page report that included more than 40 pages summarizing public comments concerning the new Line 3. …
“The importance of these economic benefits to northern Minnesota are not insubstantial,” the ALJ found, but rather “would exist with respect to any infrastructure project of this magnitude.”16 Thinking past Line 3 to build a renewable-energy infrastructure with union-protected prevailing-wage jobs would satisfy the public interest in economic development and water quality. But only Line 3 was on the table.
Of 72,249 written public comments submitted, 68,244 opposed a new Line 3.17 The ALJ recommended against Enbridge’s request because it did not “minimize the impacts on human settlement, the natural environment, the economics within the route, the State’s natural resources, and the cumulative potential effects of future pipeline construction.” She favored a “true replacement” in the existing trench.
While ALJ O’Reilly noted there was public interest in construction, it didn’t equal an endorsement of Line 3. YES, people up here are desperate for jobs but could we get some for the 21st century instead of the 19th? It’s time to END investment in the energy of the past, especially as more investment there simply hastens our demise!
Jessica next explains how the PUC denied the public a voice, as had previously been done historically in rural Minnesota.
The PUC’s embedded bias toward utility expansion has long blinded it to the interests of any larger public. In the 1970s, electrical co-ops sought to build a 430-mile-long high-voltage line through 476 farm properties in west-central Minnesota. Powerline opposition, described in scholarship by the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, was broad.19
The law was, conceivably, in the farmers’ favor. The 1971 Minnesota Environmental Rights Act applied to the project and declared the state’s policy “to promote efforts that will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of human beings[.]”20 A law requiring that the agency’s power plant and transmission siting decisions consider and “comport with the public interest” also applied to the project.21
More than 60 percent of all Minnesotans and 70 percent of rural Minnesotans opposed the line.22 The Minnesota Energy Agency, the agency then designated to review applications for certificates of need, approved it anyway.
So it was for the new Line 3.
…The PUC staff took (the ALJ’s) 400-page report and ground it—and 55 other documents—into 46 pages of “staff briefing papers” that recommended granting Enbridge the certificate of need and its preferred expansion route.23
The staff briefing did not include any discussion of the extensive public comment on the case. But it did note that “the Commission need not engage in the exercise of reviewing the ALJ Report” itself since “[t]he Commission traditionally leaves it to staff to ensure that the final written order identifies the parts of an ALJ Report that have been adopted, with or without modification, and the parts [that] have not been adopted.”24
That filtered record moved forward to the five PUC commissioners who sat on the dais in June 2018 to decide whether to grant the certificate of need and route permit.
While the PUC voted 5-0 that day in favor, their oppression of the public voice was more than clear:
The PUC, despite large public interest, failed to secure a large-enough venue, “leaving only around 70 “general admission” seats for the public who had submitted tens of thousands of comments.”
These seats, available on a first-come, first-serve basis, required earlier and earlier arrivals for anyone interested in securing one. [You can guess who this favors… those of means and those paid to be there.]
Rules for the seats were ever-changing with some allowing restroom breaks, while, for others, a restroom break meant forfeiting your seat.
The prohibitions on water bottles for these meetings, “which would often stretch for hours and sometimes the whole day”, were especially frustrating. [And remind one of newly enacted (though not likely to stand constitutional review?) voter laws in Georgia that prohibit one from bringing water or food to those in line awaiting a chance to vote. I’m sensing a pattern…]
Of notable interest was the fact that Enbridge was allowed 10 tickets while to “Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and White Earth Nation—two different parties, both of whom the ALJ had allowed to intervene to defend their separate interests—a total of five tickets to share between the two.”
As the public clamored to be let into the meeting, “seats reserved for the parties went unoccupied.”
Though the public didn’t really have a voice anyway. In fact, the attendance enforcement by the PUC got so bad that at one point the intervening parties could not get into the meeting themselves!
After opening statements, though, the commissioners directed the hearing, posing their own questions to the parties they wanted to hear from, and making their own statements into the record. The public could not comment at the hearing and parties could not rebut or cross-examine the testimony of other parties. …
Tensions escalated when, at PUC staff direction, St. Paul police removed two individuals with party badges from the building “because they were holding more than one ticket at a time.”30 Here too, the “rule” purportedly violated was not contained in any notice. PUC staff nonetheless refused to let the party representatives return.
Unsure who to contact to get their clients back into the building, the affected parties docketed a letter addressing the commissioners they appeared before.31 When the chair reopened the meeting the following day, she acknowledged the filing but said the commission would not address it because it was not the subject of the hearing. One intervenor responded with “an irregular oral objection[.]”32 When the chair began to call the docket, counsel for the Sierra Club interrupted, pleading, “I am in this room as a contract attorney without a client.”33 The meeting recessed.
Throughout all this time and up unto this unanimous decision, the public had still NEVER HAD THE DIRECT RIGHT OF CONFRONTING THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSIONERS.
The fight was not over. In fact, it was becoming clearer all the time how egregious the Public Utilities Commission had been in dismissing the public.
Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor issued a report detailing the PUC’s public-participation processes in general, and the Line 3 processes in particular.39 It wasn’t pretty. …
The legislative auditor concluded its report with a punch list of concrete recommendations to improve the PUC’s public-participation process.42
Reviewing courts, too, must also be alert to biases that can hide behind, and skew, agency decisionmaking. “PUC officials told [the legislative auditor] the Line 3 case was an anomaly and that the agency’s practices, which they believe generally work well, should not be judged on this one case alone.”43 Various courts, though, are reviewing this case.44 A self-confessed anomaly can all too easily cross into an abuse of discretion.
Last year, the PUC revisited its approval of Line 3 to consider a revised EIS. It held the first—and only—public hearing that allowed citizens to speak directly to the commissioners about whether to approve Line 3. Again, most public commenters opposed the project.”
FINALLY! The public was given a voice. And once they were given that voice, CHANGE HAPPENED.
The Public Utilities Commission’s vote this time was NOT Unanimous. While he stood alone, Commissioner Matt Schuerger HAD listened to the people… and likely read more of the record that newest Commissioner Valerie Means claimed to have read – though she claimed to have read the whole thing! [FFS]
Commissioner Schuerger voted against Line 3 three times, concluding that the revised EIS was inadequate, that Enbridge had not proven its case for a certificate of need, and that Enbridge’s preferred route was not in Minnesota’s interest.”
We’ll see what Ms. Intermill brings with Part 2. Meanwhile…
Advocacy groups have also requested intervention from the Biden administration to prevent construction from moving forward.
“We’ve tried everything up to this point, now we’re calling on the people to stand with us because the process failed us,” said Dawn Goodwin, co-founder of the Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging (RISE) coalition and a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “We’ve discovered that the process was never made to work in our favor. … We’ve called on people to come and stand and learn what it means to be treaty people.”
With all the Enbridge work in the wetlands behind our home, we’ve been concerned about how our many relatives have been affected.
We watched as the trees were clearcut with speed.
We witnessed the lumber matting thudding into place to create a road behind our home closer than the road in front of our home.
We watched as the dozers ran over the land cutting the scrub remaining from the slaughter and the grabbers snatched up the dead, piling them into giant brush piles to burn and pollute the air.
We listened to the fires crackling in the woods for hours, filling the Mississippi River Valley, and the scenic drive along County 2 from US Highway 2 to Itasca State Park, with smoke.
Now we wait. To hear the frogs return. To listen to the sandhills breeding in the water-rich land.
More than just the Enbridge destruction of recent weeks is affecting whether or not we’ll hear sandhills return to our swamp.
This time of year, the yard is typically full of water with our little man-made pondlet overflowing into the yard. The melting of winter usually disappears our little pond into a lakelet that has remained in recent years until May or June.
This year, the small plastic pond liner is the only thing holding any water. Looks like severe drought is in order as we watch ditches, usually flowing steady, trickle by along the county road out front… another product of the changing climate, in large part brought by the fossil fuel industry that Enbridge serves.
So quiet in the swamp.
We did hear a few sandhills flying over in the last week, but the throng we typically hear has not yet populated our backyard wetlands. We’ve heard nothing of the peepers. All I can think is that the dozers crushed them all in their hibernation.
Time will tell if we’ve gone too far to save ourselves.
Do we not realize… if the birds and insects disappear, eventually we will too?
How long can we keep up the charade of living as if reciprocity to the land is something with which we need not concern ourselves?
Have we actually bypassed all our opportunities to save the planet on which we reside… for our own long-term habitation?
What will the pandemic, and emerging drought, bring for the humans of the USA in 2021?
We watch as the rich gather up their stock market returns of 60-70%, remembering days when an 8% ROI was a good thing. We wonder how they can feel happy about money made in a system of so much corruption.
Meanwhile, homeless encampments – the only option for many who are now over year from their last paying job – are overrun with bulldozers as police remove the unwanted residents. Similar to how we eradicated the mosquitoes, mice, beaver, fox, wolf… who interfered with OUR management of the land?
How soon until that revolution I’ve been predicting for decades becomes a reality? How soon until so many feel they have no option but to process through their frustration and overwhelm with suicide? Or homicide?
As mass shootings continue… and people mindlessly travel without considering COVID risks… and many hope for the world to “go back to normal”, I believe we will never again go back to where we were before 2020.
And I wonder if we will continue to spiral down the drain to our own extinction… or if we will find many and myriad small communities gathering to help each other as we weather this largest storm we’ve ever seen coming at us.
I hope for love to win. For us to come together and feed, clothe, protect those not provided as much in our unequal system of sharing of the resources we have. For those who win most to realize this doesn’t bring happiness… when so many suffer for our winning. For all of us to find the goal of our common happiness and security as the most worthy of them all.
As humans race with track-hoes to pretend they can keep doing what they’ve always done… And the world floods and burns and withers from drought.
As engines beep in movement all around me, building a pipeline for the dirtiest of crude – Tar Sands… it’s hard to pretend we have any notion of saving ourselves.
As we cut down the very beings that provide us oxygen to breathe.
As many grow excited for schools to open… ready to go back to a “normal” economy… [Normal? Are we psychopaths? Apparently so.] … we see the numbers in cases and infections beginning to surge again.
We watch millions focus on dollars and economics… giving not a thought to the water, trees, plants, and bees that make everyday life possible. Will we soon realize how dependent we have become on systems that do not support life but instead bring death?
The fossil fuel industry is taking itself out… as the climate chaos we saw in Texas – and throughout the middle of the country – was a result of the burning we’ve done for centuries now.
And for decades now – longer for those selling the fossil fuels – while we knew exactly what they were delivering… we did nearly nothing? Simply burning fossil fuels faster and faster?
How will our children forgive us? Or rather, will they?
In addition to the fuels and plastics, the oil industry brings death and extinction for life of all kinds. And now – are we realizing… that “life” is ours?
As loads of freight remain in place, unmovable with no electricity to fill tanks with gas, ratios of loads to drivers go to astronomical figures… Indy shoots from 7 loads per driver to 37… while in Cincy reefer trucks, normally around the mid-30s, report their status as not available… with over 200 loads and zero drivers to move them. Watch those store shelves as we “catch up” from the backlog caused by the polar vortex we created?
Or will we get to watch as production lines slow… because there is no shipment of already done freight… and before you can make more, you need to move out what you have?
And will we again have loads of milks and potatoes dumped and buried as we have no way to move food in the massive system we’ve created… so un-localized and heavily reliant on fuels?
Can many of us foresee how much worse 2021 will be in comparison to 2020? Even with the vaccinations… and the talk of environmental justice… and green paths going forward… from the all-hands-on-deck portrayed administration that is calming and encouraging so many?
The new managers don’t calm us. Not those of us who’ve seen that already [!!!] we’re headed for 5-6° warming… with 1.5° being a dream scenario that we lost in decades past.
As we watch a Tar Sands pipeline project proceed across the state of Minnesota… just outside the living room window.
As if we can all just… Go back to “normal”.
The worst of the 1918 Spanish Flu were the deaths in the Spring of 1920. Does this still await?
While some caw about vaccines, we also watch as these quick-whip cures kill with cytokine storm jump starts via injection. I see why some aren’t ready… even if they aren’t on the list… of those who can get the magic elixers.
Every day, we watch… as it seems we lose ground… sacrificing the trees and wetlands of Northern Minnesota… to a Canadian corporation treating this place like it’s their colony.
Bought and paid for agencies beholden to their regulatory captors got us into this mess. Will they have the courage to save us? If not, will the courts?
If not, we will simply keep trudging toward extinction… like the elephants seeking water in African deserts… or polar bears seeking another ice island on which to take a breather?
Or will we be running from the flood as it wipes our house away?
There were a whole host of other debacles this past week that have left me feeling beaten down. Hopeless in moments, disturbed in others, darkly sad and alone in many others. When it rains, it pours. So, overall, a pretty rough time.
It’s been a hard couple months but I haven’t felt so much like just walking away from it all in a while. Trouble is, how does one walk away from accountability to the land, the trees, the water, the animals? I truly don’t think we’ve got much chance remaining to really save ourselves as a species. Though I focus on helping and not harming as much as possible these days, in hopes of leaving more for those who remain after us. Some weeks are more successful than others.
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking pieces of the puzzle of dismay in the last week, was the sinking of a piece of Enbridge equipment in the LaSalle Creek Aquatic Management Area just south of us. We got word from a friend who’d seen the iNewzTV coverage. I was concerned about the person, in fact, so concerned that I’m surprised he was treated and released, one bit of good news in the last week. I was telling a friend Sunday, some things are so horrific, you are better off not recovering. Based on the reporting, it seemed this might be one of those cases. It reminded me of a friend I had who survived an explosion with pretty severe burns over a large portion of her body. She spoke of not wanting to survive. Dan too speaks to his own struggles in surviving his burns. While the physical pain was the driver in the beginning, in a society where trauma is not acknowledged and superficial beauty is so valued, pain is not the only concern as time passes. Some of those scars can last a lifetime.
Nonetheless, a bigger piece of my sad this week is for the beavers who were affected by this equipment failure. The pipeliner was trapped in the equipment and could not be freed. [Um, OSHA anyone? Perhaps some quick release latch on the plexiglass enclosures for emergency submerging situations? FFS has no one ever thought of this before?]
According to a report from iNewz.TV, the vehicle’s shatterproof plexiglass windows made it difficult for workers to free the victim, forcing them to break a nearby beaver dam in order to lower the water level inside the cab.”
No mention in the coverage on how the beavers fared. And what was the effect on the surrounding environment? Was the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency or Department of Natural Resources on site to monitor the releases of oil into the water? Assure proper containment? We will see. My guess is no, based on how little they’ve done to protect Nature and how much they’ve done to accommodate industry in the years I’ve been civicly involved in Minnesota. And what I heard at the MPCA Rule Change meeting Thursday.
Dan and I went to see what we could document and found what appeared to be further work on trying to remove the equipment – at least that was our assessment.
A few years back a neighbor blew a beaver dam. I was shocked. It was early winter as I recall – snow on the ground. Those beavers were left homeless – or dead? – in a time when it would be harsh conditions to find new housing. As I said, perhaps some things are better off not surviving. And here again, we hear no plea for the beavers. No concern for their situation? Perhaps this is why we find ourselves in this mess.
Another Water Protector emailed her own dismay this weekend saying, “Sometimes I wish all the animals could rise up and defend themselves. All at once!” I replied:
I too wish the animals could defend against us. We’re too powerful and destructive. And they are not. That’s not how they live. Or how we should… Regardless of how things go, we can be very proud of stopping so much of the Tar Sands these past half dozen years. That in itself has helped postpone the end of our species. Perhaps giving enough of us time to awaken, get serious, and listen to the Animals, Plant Nation, Nibi, and Aki. These are the things that give me hope.
I will close with big thanks to all the lovely Water Protectors who have come to my aid this week in the struggle. We rely on each other in these times of darkness and I appreciate all who have given me support, strength, love, care, and hope. You help keep me sane as I make sense of all that is happening. And thanks also to all the others who brought me love, laughs, or perspective. And those who also are doing good… always an encouragement. I have some cards to make and send…
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:
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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…
It seems like everything is slower than normal… or faster than normal, depending on who you are. Perhaps.
If you’re a retired engineer in the north woods, awaiting some special news, time drags like an eternity, regardless of how much you do.
Days end as you talk with a friend realizing hazily that it seems two days have passed since this morning, when you happened down to the river to pray and ran into that surprise.
Days seem to have 48 hours instead of 24. And yet, so little seems to get done.
All talk. No sense of any progress. 24/7 “news” cycles crowing together in a cacophony of chaos.
Perhaps it’s those currently overwhelmed for whom time seems to race? As one tends vent tubes, receives new patients, swabs noses, or transports victims of our newest plague, perhaps the time seems to flash by as the end of the day arrives before one is aware… though grief persists around all the lost hours missed with children and lovers.
It feels a prayer for the world is in order in each moment.
Yet we are the gods creating each day here on Mother Earth. We are the ones managing the planet’s infrastructure now, as humans have become their own sort of plague upon the planet… some spewing excessive carbon for glorious lives of ease… while others toil for pennies, hoping to have enough to eat each evening.
It seems us children have gone a bit too far with Mother these days. She’s hotter than ever about our obstinance – our commitment to fashion and fast, our desires for more. In our haste, we’ve seemed to have bypassed all the tipping points She tried to provide as warnings.
The arctic waters no longer cool and the forests are burning with abandon, while floods wipe away dreams and beings perish at ever increasing rates. In the last year humans have reckoned our pending demise as the pandemic dead pile and require disposal. For those who care to heed the signs, evidence is clear. Losing a “9/11” of American victims each day seems enough, does it not, to make it clear?
So what of those who will not see? Those in denial? Is it truly all of us?
What is to be done when many among us fail to consider their fellow man? Those who fly about, not considering the tremendous impacts personal actions have for all others? Those who blast through the fast food bag, throwing it out the window as they speed to work, where they will earn only enough to afford that cheap substitute for nourishment? Those who piss into potable water as many around the world struggle to find clean water to drink? Will this be the fate of us all as we poison our surroundings to assure we can keep living faster? Giving back far too little in reciprocity to the Mother keeping us alive each day?
What of those so afraid of their loss of perceived power that they’ve allowed their secret plans for insurrection to become real… and revealed? Will we ever truly know the truth of what has transpired in our government, our agencies, our law enforcement ranks, as the power of money has trumped the power of compassion for our fellows? Will we ever find our ways forward to a place of peace?
To assure you are duly warned, LANGUAGE ALERT. Oops. Was that too late? Did the title give too much away? In case it did not, what ensues will be the ramblings on the many levels of how fucked we are. While I typically focus on the Enbridge Line 3 debacle in Northern Minnesota, there is OH SO MUCH OTHER HORRIBLE happening these days, that I will cover a bit of new or strange ground today. For those who’ve been reading a while, nothing too new, no worries. [Though at Book Club Sunday I’m pretty sure they were like, “How do we uninvite the lady who started the Book Club? She’s kinda sounding crazy.” (FYI: I hear ya’. I feel pretty crazy. Isn’t that NORMAL these days?)]
The issue in the Center Ring is the National insanity and, while I heard 45 was banned… is he back? [I swear I did a search for him yesterday and only Don, Jr popped up. 45 used to be @realDonaldTrump as you may recall. Surely this @POTUS account was there too and I missed it?] No activity of late… but maybe this account is managed by… Kayleigh McEnany? Or some other lackey?
So TWO law enforcement officers had to die for this to happen, one apparently at his own hand and one by skull fracture with a fire extinguisher, and we still see pretty much NOTHING done to those who committed the insurrection? Nothing much anyway. I hear they got the Q Shaman (is this dude serious?), the Arkansasshole, and the podium guy. But many are still at large:
The duo of 45 and Rudy – who called for the group to march to the Capitol for “Trial by Combat”
The Capitol Police officers who waved these insurrectionists in toward the Capitol, removing barriers and running away from them as they flowed through the building seeking to reek havoc and “Stop the Steal” [luckily some quick thinkers managed to secure the ballot boxes]
The Insurrectionists who wandered in as if it was any given Wednesday, rummaging through desks and destroying/stealing government property
The Republicans who encouraged – even after ALL the chaos – a continued commitment to OBJECTING to the certification of the vote [time to remove them all]
That 45 has been given until 1/11 to resign – like, WHY THE FUCK IS THIS HIS Decision? Remove that motherfucker NOW, eh? – which correlates to the 3% movement’s insignia [as we’ve already heard threats from insurrectionists who acted on 1/6/21 that they would “be back on the eleventh”] should give some rationale for a pause. A requirement that we consider what might be going down today? I mean, after the epic fail at the Capitol, I’d not be surprised by almost anything. Perhaps the police are downplaying it as they have folks staged in all the states to take over? 3% believe the County Sheriff is the highest law of the land and it was disturbing to see Deputies in Olympia, Washington giving law enforcement guarding the governor’s mansion some side-eye as they fist bumped the protestors (who eventually shouted “kill them all”).
The talk that this is “Over Now” – as I heard on On the Media – like, hey, we counted the votes so, all is fine, we’re moving on with Joe! – might be a bit premature. Those who disagree may have other plans [WARNING: that link is a bit creepy, though I think we should ALL be aware there is some portion of our country that feels that way].
45’s delight at the rioters’ response to his command, his complete disregard for what was transpiring, his subsequent submissive speech (obviously given by a clone – see, there’s a reason for everything!), are all reasons for his immediate removal and, to be honest, his commitment to a mental health facility to evaluate his current mental state. At least we get some media folks (FINALLY) speaking to this chaos and asking for accountability? Apparently 56% of us want 45 removed immediately. Regardless, too little has been done, and whatever is done in the end will be too late to allow the U.S. any means of holding authority in the world. We have become the shit-holiest of countries.
I’m not sure what % of his followers are still in love with him (the clone theorists) and what % are finally realizing that he’s never truly given a shit about them at all. But I’m concerned for all of them. For those disillusioned, perhaps suicide will feel an only option. I know how I felt when Bernie wasn’t given the nomination (the first time). It isn’t pretty – discovering of the unfairness and corruption in our government – whether true or imaginary. [I was a late bloomer when it comes to Presidential politics – hadn’t paid nearly enough attention to the Dark Money and Citizens United decisions over the years…] For those still believing in 45, I fear what they can be led to do in the name of “democracy” or “Jesus“.
Christianity is deeply interwoven with many of the ideologies that brought Trump supporters out to the National Mall and into the halls of Congress.
According to Andrew L. Whitehead, co-director of the Association of Religion Data Archives and professor of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, understanding Christian nationalism is essential to understanding what motivated many of the demonstrators and rioters in Washington.
“I think that [the demonstrators and rioters] believe that God has a specific plan for this country, and that their vision for the country has been given to them by God,” Whitehead said. “Christian nationalism at its core is this desire to see Christianity be privileged in the public sphere.”
The Christianity of Christian nationalism is very narrow and specific, according to Whitehead. It is typically white supremacist, nativist, and authoritarian. Whitehead and his colleagues previously found that adherence to a Christian nationalist ideology was one of the strongest predictors of a Trump vote.”
Here’s what Beau had to say… [It’s just a thought… and a good one imagining Trump in Alamo, Texas – so many levels of funny! – just 225 miles away from the actual Alamo. And I’d agree with Beau that, without Twitter, he’ll surely be full of vitriole to spew as soon as he gets in front of his followers; and we should take care to assure the story stays straight. A review of the situation on the 6th by PBS Newshour journalists was quite thorough and I recommend it. Four women journalists: PBS NewsHour’s anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff talks to correspondents Lisa Desjardins, Amna Nawaz and Yamiche Alcindor.
Meanwhile, in Ring Two, we STILL have a pandemic unfolding!! The country is losing the equivalent of another “9/11” every day… and many still are giving the virus short shrift. We’re too busy talking about the insurrection and getting ‘back to normal’ just as soon as we possibly can!! Yet, since November 1st, Minnesota has lost 3205 citizens to COVID – that’s 57% of our dead in the last 6 weeks. We saw the spiking deaths as Enbridge moved workers into the area. It seems they anticipated Walz and his administration permitting them to flood Northern Minnesota with pipeliners from places like Texas, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and more. The foreign corporation is now moving at breakneck speed to drill under our rivers as quickly as possible, hoping to eradicate the Minnesota Court of Appeals authority to rule on the legal need for this pipeline. [Ring three could be your choice of: the economy failing, the pending market crash, the death of big oil, climate change, the evictions, food shortages. As all that stuff is interconnected, you eventually get around to all the others!]
Many hospitals in Los Angeles and other hard-hit areas are struggling to keep up and warned they may need to ration lifesaving care. Nurses are caring for more sick people than typically allowed under the law after the state began issuing waivers to the strict nurse-to-patient ratios.”
At least on the insurrection front we have The Governator who has spoken clearly on what we saw on the 6th. He recognizes the situation for the disturbing nightmare it truly is… because he’s lived its legacy. Patriotism is standing by the Country, not the President. Indeed, Teddy! Give him a listen – it’s worth a few moments as we face what feels like such a historic moment in time.
And on the Enbridge front, here’s a bit more good news. [See, I never let you down!!] American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has reported that they are breaking ties with Enbridge as a sponsor, saying:
We’ve taken pause to reconsider our relationship with Enbridge Energy and have chosen to dissolve our agreement. In hindsight, we realize that this association was perhaps not a clear pathway to engaging conversation in support of education, future change, and ultimately our greater Birkie Green initiatives, nor was it in alignment with our American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) mission. For that, we are sorry. We never intended to cause concern within the Birkie community.”
Guess they finally realized they were being funded by the very source of their demise… thanks to those who helped them.
Good Luck today, Everybody! Let’s hope for the best. [Publishing this early… as I’m a bit concerned about cover of dark operations some insurrectionists might be considering. I mean, they’ve had four whole days to plan deep into the night… so I’m counting on someone planning to do something. Let’s just hope they aren’t as successful as they hope.]
After posting last week’s blog, I got a request to update folks on what the current legal status is for the proposed Enbridge Line 3 project. I will admit my title was a bit deceiving… the Motions for Stay to the Court of Appeals were what I was anticipating, not a Stay decision, which would take a few more days… or longer.
While Enbridge experienced their first fatality on the project, we still hear no word from the Walz Administration to give pause for the project. No stopping for death of any kind it seems… The politics on the Virus and the Project are undeniable these days. 😦
So, where are we exactly with the Line 3 legal fight? This is what Kevin Whelen, former Executive Director for MN350 and current Line 3 Water Protector active in the Palisade, MN area wanted to know after reading last week’s blog.
RE Kevin’s request for an overview:
Friends of the Headwaters hopes that the court will expedite a stay request, but it’s unlikely that our other appeals will get decisions before spring.
Current FOH court appeals regarding the Line 3 oil pipeline:
* A challenge to the MN Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) misguided and lackadaisical decisions around the contested case and the water permits.
* An appeal DISPUTING THE ADEQUACY OF EIS, the Line 3 Environmental Impact Statement.
* A STAY ON LINE 3 CONSTRUCTION until the appeals have been heard, argued, and decided.
* An appeal CHALLENGING THE MN PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (PUC)–its process, its lazy acceptance of incomplete Enbridge data, its willful ignorance regarding the MN Environmental Policy Act, and its incoherent rationale for Line 3.
* A legal complaint regarding the US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) 404 permit.
Friends of the Headwaters’ member response on FB 12-15-20 (my additions)
What does all this mean? And when can we hope for relief from the Enbridge onslaught to our forests and wetlands?
We must first remember how unlikely a Stay is to secure: 50% of requests don’t get the desired ruling. It’s almost always a long-shot. That said, 2020 isn’t like most other times. And the presence of a Global Pandemic, alongside increasing evidence that we need urgent and immediate response by governments as the planet burns, floods, and convulses due to the human activity – may help our cases.
The LTEs are fast and furious, with most of the Enbridge support focusing on jobs and profits and most of the opposition focused on the risks for death and environmental destruction. Which do YOU find “Irreparable”? I think it’s pretty clear we can fix jobs and financial problems while death is hard to remedy… whether it’s an 80-year old tree or your 80-year old Grandma.
A temporary Stay for cultural reasons was issued recently when on December 5th the project encountered a lodge (waaginogaan) near the proposed SECOND crossing under the Mississippi River. [Why cross once when you can cross TWICE? FFS. This project is a bad idea for SO MANY FUCKING reasons.] To my knowledge, Enbridge has YET to produce their Cultural Resources Monitor to review the location with The People, though work continues to the west of the lodge, including on a drill pad at the Mississippi River. [18:55 is a summary by Winona of the project. Permits with no enforcement power… No protection of the Water. The details on the Cultural Resources Monitor is at 26:30 (24:24-28:00 covers the topic). So far, no response for the White Earth Tribal Historic Preservation Officer on a name for that Enbridge representative, who is supposed to be leading any work that involves digging? Who can call Enbridge to task for NOT having the Appropriate Cultural personnel to do a project of this magnitude through Indian Country??? It seems no one. It’s been more than two weeks and no response from the MPCA, PUC, DNR, or even Enbridge – as they barrel on with their work.
Winona also mentioned the death at Hill City and the speed Enbridge is using on this project. She notes (28:25) that Transmountain had two workers die and an injury (12/16/20) and they have closed their project down this week. That article notes the injury occurred after MULTIPLE COVID violations were discovered on inspections. There was also a father of 4 lost in late October on the project – “That injury comes seven weeks after an employee of SA Energy — the contractor leading the pipeline expansion work in the Edmonton region — died at a work site on the outskirts of the Alberta capital. Samatar Sahal, 40, was caught and pinned under a crossbeam of a trench box that was being disassembled at a Trans Mountain site on Oct. 27.” Rushing pipelines IS a dangerous thing.
Trans Mountain is suspending all work in Burnaby and across the entire pipeline route starting Friday, Dec. 18 until Jan. 4, 2021, says a statement. …
The accident follows revelations that federal regulators recently found “systemic non-compliances” of COVID-19 mask rules at Trans Mountain worksites in Burnaby and the Lower Mainland.
Four workers were sent home following an inspection that found more than three dozen violations by contractors in three days.
Canadian Energy Regulator staff conducted a compliance inspection at the Westridge Marine Terminal (Dec. 1) and the Burnaby Terminal (Dec. 2) on Burnaby Mountain. The inspection also focused on “Spread 7,” the section of the pipeline expansion construction being done in the Lower Mainland, on Dec. 3. Work at each of these sites is contracted out to Kiewit-Ledcor Trans Mountain Partnership (KLTP).
Over the course of those three days, the inspector found 37 violations of three COVID protocols set out by Trans Mountain’s COVID-19 response plan.”
And is this kind of COVID violation happening in Minnesota on the Line 3 project? Some photos have been secured on non-complying contractors locally. Regardless of whether or not protocols are followed, COVID is a real risk in our communities. This is a screenshot from a recent FB posting for an employee on the Line 3 project:
State of the Current Legal Cases
As noted above, there are multiple fronts in this tar sands pipeline opposition:
Appeals disputing the Adequacy of the EIS, the Certificate of Need, and Route Permit are currently filed with the MN Court of Appeals. [Initial Briefs on these cases were just recently filed (Red Lake, White Earth, & Mille Lacs Bands, along with Youth Climate Intervenors, Friends of the Headwaters, Sierra Club, Honor the Earth, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce) though the cases will take many months for completion. Hence, a Motion for Stay on the project until the judicial process can make a ruling.] These filings challenge all aspects of the PUC process, which the Office of Legislative Auditors reported did not adhere to the law with regard to public engagement.
Challenging the MPCA ruling on the contested case hearing and their water permits has pushed out as the MPCA has asked for an extension on their response, pushing this case into the new year for briefs. [And, based on a recent MN350Action report on the MN Chamber of Commerce, this avenue may be a long-shot given Laura Bishop’s long-standing ties to Big Business.]
A legal complaint regarding the US Army Corps of Engineers’ 404 permit. This is still in the works as it regards Federal courts as opposed to Minnesota Courts as the USACE is a Federal Agency. This work may also depend on additional factors (which I’m just too tired to investigate at this point… and I guess we have time, though perhaps by next week I can give an update).
Once filed with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, estimates are 15-20 days being about as quick as the Stay could be issued – not much less as Enbridge will be offered a chance to respond. Based on all the reading I have done, the case seems pretty cut-and-dried. And the scientific evidence is certainly piling up against it being a good idea to 1) build a tar sands pipeline ever again, and 2) to even consider doing that unnecessary work during a global pandemic.
Here’s hoping that the Court of Appeals will represent a branch of Minnesota government showing reason and an adherence to the law – kinda their balliwick, eh? – as we’ve not seen that to date from the Executive or Legislative branches. The politics of collusion with Enbridge is thick and includes our media – even resulting in Osterholm NOT being asked about the effect of Line 3 pipeliners coming into the state on River Radio… though a local politician had asked for the question to be presented. Though he did mention that, even with the vaccine, we’ll be seeing the effects from COVID for “many years to come”. He also worried about the tremendous damage we’re doing with PTSD to our health care professionals. Yet, still no #DelayLine3 effort from the Walz Administration? Perhaps they can get Ellison and Osterholm on TOGETHER and talk the Science of Climate Change and COVID and how the Enbridge Line 3 project makes NO SENSE on either front. The focus of the program was on economics, not life, it seems. 😦
Resistance Along the Enbridge Corridor of Death
Rather than write much, I’ll direct you to Healing Minnesota Stories’ Monday blog post about their last weekend’s experience. Sadly, DNR Conservation Officers have been co-opted to work against the citizens of Minnesota – also illegally – in supporting the Canadian Oil Transport Company, Enbridge, over the People of Minnesota. I will note that the treatment of Water Protectors and Natives, and their culture especially, has been egregious. Officers grabbing a Staff (these revered beings are to be respected) and holding people with hands bound behind their backs in freezing temperatures for almost an hour? WTF? How is THAT humane? Strip searching people for petty misdemeanor offenses? During a pandemic? Taking N95 masks from vulnerable parties and giving them paper masks? These aren’t hardened criminals that required jailing, they are young women and older ladies standing to protect the water! The actions of this Sheriff were beyond comprehension and truly are criminal. It is clear the intention was to dissuade further voice to those opposing the Line 3 project. I do not think their actions will be successful. I think mainly they will reveal the inhumanity of our law enforcement officers acting as goons… for a few Enbridge dollars.
Three Honor the Earth and Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light volunteers accessed the waaginogaan area for prayer. We were up the river bank – 150 yards from ANY construction – and were besieged by eight DNR Officers crashing through the woods yelling at us, citing us. Definitely a show of force.”
Shared after an early December experience at the proposed Line 3 Mississippi River Crossing
The Global Situation
Big news this past week regarding Lloyd’s of London:
Caving to pressure from climate action campaigners, Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance market, announced Wednesday that it will no longer cover coal-fired power plants and mines, tar sands, or Arctic energy exploration activities from January 2022 onward, with plans to fully phase out such businesses by 2030.
Meanwhile, Climate Justice Advocacy groups bemoan the announcement as still too little, too late:
We welcome Lloyd’s new policy of no longer providing new insurance cover for coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, oil sands, and new Arctic energy exploration as a step in the right direction,” said Lindsay Keenan, European coordinator for Insure Our Future, in a statement. “However, the policy should take effect now, not 2022.”
“Additionally, the target date for Lloyd’s to phase out existing policies should be January 2021 for companies still developing new coal and tar sand projects,” she said. “Lloyd’s 2030 deadline is not justified by climate science and the urgent need for action. We will continue to hold Lloyd’s accountable until it has met these recommendations.” …
Flora Rebello Arduini, senior campaigner consultant for SumOfUs… “Lloyd’s needs to prohibits all members of its market from renewing insurance for the Adani Carmichael coal mine, the Trans Mountain tar sand pipeline extension, and other such climate-wrecking projects when they come up for renewal in 2021, not in 2030.” …
Elana Sulakshana, energy finance campaigner at Rainforest Action Network, put it: “Lloyd’s is sending a message to the U.S. insurance industry that it cannot continue its unchecked support for climate-wrecking projects under the Lloyd’s name.”
“Building on today’s momentum, we will continue pressuring the U.S. insurance industry to match and exceed Lloyd’s policies across their entire fossil fuel underwriting and investment portfolios,” Sulakshana vowed. …
Lloyd’s announcement is “a step in the right direction” but “not enough,” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. ” As Indigenous Peoples, we are living in ground zero of climate change while fighting to protect our sacred lands and our ways of life. People need to understand that the land, the water, and the animals are what makes us who we are.”
“Our human rights have been violated not just by our government but by corporations and people that are not educated on Indigenous issues,” she added. “We urge Lloyd’s to join AXA and Swiss Re to exclude themselves from any Arctic Refuge energy development or exploration immediately and show the world that they respect the rights of Indigenous peoples whose lives will forever change if drilling is to occur.
The piece notes: “AIG, Liberty Mutual, and other U.S. insurers that operate Lloyd’s syndicates will be forced to abide by the new rules for their underwriting.”
So that could mean Enbridge will no longer have insurance for their pipelines NEAR-TERM. THIS should be a good reason to evaluate whether we REALLY want a Tar Sands pipeline pushed through Minnesota forests and wetlands. I mean, who is gonna pay for the spill if Enbridge no longer has an insurance policy?
Enbridge can’t even file their fucking compliance paperwork correctly:
If they can’t even complete their compliance filings correctly – something they’d done hundreds of times over the decades – How On EARTH can we trust them to comply with the complex things like engineering documents and environmental permits… or novel things like COVID protocols? For crying out loud, they’ve already RUSHED to their FIRST Fatality on the Project… Days ago now, yet no details have emerged. [As of Sunday evening.]
And what of our own Minnesota DNR? I hear they were threatening newly-elected Minnesota Legislators with arrest this past weekend. Guess they’ll see how that threatening nature goes for them moving forward. [My money is on the Legislative Ladies! Bunch of STRONG VOICES willing to speak up for THE PEOPLE.]
#StayLine3 #DelayLine3 #Pause4Pandemic
Since it is Solstice time, I’m passing along the greetings we sent to the Relay for Our Water participants. It was the fun part of the last week… making this with good friends and allies.