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.
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.
The MEQB attempted to introduce Minnesotans to the newly appointed Governor’s Climate Change Subcabinet. And failed. Miserably. [@7:50 Laura Bishop (LB) really tells us how it is in MN government… with the “political, er public!” appointees.]
How badly did they fail? Well, they never even introduced the new Subcabinet appointees… AND they failed to get many answers for the questions posed by the public. Not a good showing, any way you slice it. And we will.
First, we should say where everyone was from:
[Wait, maybe first we should start with the lack of any land acknowledgement being shared? This is something I’ve grown to love hearing from the various groups with which I interact, a reminder of the Tribes’ long history with corrupt government.]
Do we give the MEQB a point for adding Western Minnesota quickly? [after a participant question] Or not? [because afterthought “Eastern” got no add] What exactly are the divisions about – to the MEQB. How is it ONE Minnesota if even the Metro suburbs are segregated out from urban proper? We all get the Metro/Rural divide [which I’ve written about before and which is ridiculous in this forum – I mean don’t we all drink water to live?], but what are these further divisions?
Northern, Central, Southern… Where are the boundaries? Is “Central” the I-94 corridor folks? Are “Southern” those poor folks whose water is already contaminated? “Northern” those pesky folks working to prevent Enbridge from destroying their clean watersheds? If we think these groups have some coalesced voice that requires grouping, what is it? [But, hey, gives you an idea of where people are paying attention to this rollout.]
The session opened, after this “ice-breaker” poll, with a welcome from Laura Bishop, Commissioner of the MPCA and Chair of the MEQB. She thanked Minnesotans for attending to learn more about what Minnesota government is doing to address climate change.
The size and scope of the climate crisis requires our swift action at every level to help protect our communities and ensure a sustainable future for all Minnesotans.
And we need and value your participation in these efforts.”
Laura Bishop intro… We’ll see what they show us today in this vein. Note she also said, “Governor Walz has said, if Washington won’t lead on Climate Change, Minnesota will.” You tell me how confident you feel at the end of this blog about that.
Laura noted that we must work together… “This is the First One Minnesota Climate Forum!” [And she notes coordinating being done with the Tribes.]
Then we had a bit of Reflection guided by Mariah Levinson from the MN Department of Admin’s Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution – how apropos! 😀 [Using the Slido tool for dialogue – because why use a CHAT in the meeting when that would be easier? Either way, if you don’t have a computer, you’re shit outta luck for participation.] The Subcabinet and Board were encouraged to use their video to create the idea that we’re all in the same room together! This is the question for reflection (and my answer – one of MANY comments concerning Line 3):
At one point, three NoLine3 Comments were up top! [But we’re not gonna talk about Line 3 today!! Oh, yes we are, Laura Bishop.]
We next moved on to introductions of the state agency reps where each spoke on “a potential climate solution” they are excited about. Lots about Clean Cars, EVs, and EV Infrastructure for BIG BENEFITS TO MN!
Grace Arnold, new Commissioner of Commerce reported after Commissioner Bishop, following on her lead, noting that getting pollution out of the air brings good health impacts. We spent about 20 minutes on these introductions for the MEQB. [And I have to say I CONTINUE to LOVE Jennifer Ho of Housing.] Nick Martin – newest MEQB member repping CD 4 – with background in electric, natural gas, transportation, ag, forestry sectors, spoke near the end. While I was a bit put off by his buzzword bingo, he made some interesting comments.
Ben Yawakie impressed with his comment:
… Loved what I’m hearing from everyone so I’ll just add something different and new. With respect to transitioning away from the use of fossil fuels, and also respecting tribal sovereignty and protecting water quality, by discontinuing any new projects such as Line 3. Thank you.
Benjamin Yawakie, Citizen Board Member CD 3 No, Ben. Thank YOU!!!! ❤
Gerald Van Amberg reiterated getting “everyone on board” to address climate change. At about 45 minutes in, I was wondering how we were going to get to all the introductions for the 15 new Climate Change Subcabinet appointees. Well, no worry. We weren’t! Instead, we got some brief talks about ideas to see what MN is looking to do with the Subcabinet. About 50 minutes in you can see the additional structure of our government workers who will be solving the climate crisis here in Minnesota.
Faith Krogstad, Engagement Coordinator for the MEQB, talked about Climate Change Public Engagement Framework. [So we’ll continue to know our place?] She extended an invitation for us all to get involved and presented some slides from places where engagement IS HAPPENING, like Create – The Community Meal [Seitu Jones’ 2014 project – which is cool as shit so watch this video]. Lots of word salad about how they need to think about new ways to engage but sounds like it’s still a thing they aren’t sure how to do… She mentions a “different table” to get Minnesotans engaged, which includes an interesting approach but not one that seems very “new”. Same old system where individual inputs get buried by “Multilevel” players… Does this mean corporations and partnerships with monied interests?
Of the presentations, the only one I really appreciated (as it was not simply word salad of imagined future worlds with no real indication on HOW to get there, as were most of the other presentations) was given by Mary Otto, Tribal Liaison from the Department of Commerce, on Government to Government interactions. Mary gives historical perspective and detailed information on the reciprocity expressed in Tribal Culture. She shows how the MN Tribal Environmental Committee (previously the MN Tribal Executive Committee?) and State Tribal Liaison Coordination Team (MDA, MDT, MPCA, MDOC) overlap in their work with MOTHER EARTH and FUTURE GENERATIONS. What a concept.
Next Mary Robinson, Info Officer from the MPCA leading Comms and Outreach, discussed the online tools (so not available for all Minnesotans?) and Willis must have been SO HAPPY to see them using the language of “framing”, even if not totally seeming to quite get it yet. While there was some recognition that climate change is already happening – and last month all 15 agencies in the subcabinet got a new toolkit!! – it still feels very much that these folks are truly clueless about the real needs for redressing our situation. You can take action on Local Impacts, State of MN Actions or Community Solutions! Plans are pending for further development! This problem is NOT TOO BIG OR TOO COMPLEX TO TACKLE! [You can also find the new appointments to the advisory council here… I think they believe that simply APPOINTING THE CABINET was a SOLUTION???] Mariah assured us that FUTURE MEETINGS would have opportunities for more engagement. [Promises, promises?]
Then we entered the Q&A section of the meeting! With reflections and responses from our Subcabinet and MEQB Board members? Um… Not so much.
You can see in the above photo of Mary Otto’s presentation, how I was questioning in the chat why MY question was not being approved… [Wondering now if I hadn’t asked, if it EVER would have been approved!]
I added a question at the same time as MEQB Citizen Board member Kristin Eide-Tollefson (1:50 PM), yet you can see that both Matt Doll – Minnesota Environmental Partnership and J Drake Hamilton – Executive Director of Fresh Energy were BOTH approved before mine. What does this say about the algorithm for approval? Who is making those decisions?
While members were encouraged to respond, I saw VERY LITTLE of that during the meeting. Our first question? About urban and community forests… and Shannon Lotthammer responded, noting the Emerald Ash Borer work from 2019… and other projects in progress but that there is more space for things to happen and they are looking for input.
When it came to the second question, Faith Krogstad noted:
Just want to acknowledge that we have a large number of Line 3 questions and that’s obviously a very important topic to a lot of people within the state here so what I would like to do is find (pause) I’m selecting one, um, that actually doesn’t specifically mention Line 3 but I would just ask that anyone responding to it keep Line 3 in mind, um, this one I’m highlighting now: What effective steps can Minnesotans and policy makers take to turn back future natural gas power plants and oil pipelines that will bring more oil through our state. All of these will build in more fossil use and hence climate change? Without effective action now we are derelict in our duties.”
Faith Krogstad 1:19:20 WTF!?!? Why they so scared of Line 3?
Laura Bishop, currently holding power to approve or deny needed permits for the project at the MPCA, responded.
I think, you know, our getting together as a Climate Subcabinet as well as um doing this outreach to our communities is that first step in really understanding across um our agencies a place that we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. So that is what our intent is with lowering our GHG emissions in the state and the goals that we have in place and the intent to you know come together as a Climate Subcabinet is really getting at that.
With regard to specific to Line 3, what I will say is you know there are all different agencies that have different aspects and the Governor has really asked us to look at the process that is in place as well as follow the science and each agency has, you know, that uh those authorities to look at so, as you know, we have Commerce who has oversight, the Public Utilities Commission that has oversight, DNR has um some oversight for as it relates to different uh wetlands and water crossings, uh as does MPCA with the uh water permits and construction stormwater permits AND we have the Army Corps of Engineers as well that plays a role. So there are many different pieces that have to come together and um certainly a pipeline that does not have a um stated or demonstrated need for supply um is one that um is being looked at right now um so that it’s something the Department of Commerce is has asked for the company to really designate and state the need um for that supply that would be going through the state. Otherwise, what happens is really our duties, um are to look at uh the construction and uh how that comes through the state. So doesn’t really answer the full question, but um, I think it does get at uh what our intent is as a Subcabinet, which is to look at ways (to) mitigate and to decrease the use of these uh fossil fuels that are coming through our state and um certainly uh something that we intend to look at is ways to um bring down our greenhouse gasses through reducing that uh need.
Laura Bishop 1:20:11 – 1:22:50 is of interest as the MPCA has a “duty” to determine Need as well, but they ignored that duty, relying on the “Need” determined by the PUC.
She asked for others on the Subcabinet to speak to this… but no one bit. She moved to a question asking “what can we do”, noting:
… the agencies are really looking at and what we can do and do we have any authority to stop the project. I think what the question here is is really for our agencies to raise those questions so with is there the need, is it protective of our waters with this construction, if the state doesn’t act what happens with the federal government and their role in taking this on and their protections uh with regard to the water uh protections and as well as um really looking at uh those pieces I know there’s been questions about tribal sovereignty and tribal lands and certainly that is something that the tribes have looked at as well um in areas of tribal crossings but we know that hunting, gathering areas are also places that um our tribes have those concerns so those type of dialogues have been happening consistently um with regard to uh interactions by the administration and I know also um the within the communities.
Laura Bishop continues…ending 1:24:50
Which took us to the last question where Faith notes (after unmuting):
as I was saying, we’ve had a lot of questions on Line 3, um, and we really thank the audience members for submitting these important questions and for Commissioner Bishop responding to that. I’m gonna transition to another topic that’s popular here: ‘We often focus on mitigation and consider adaptation as an afterthought. Why aren’t adaptation efforts from and center, along with resilience.’
And I’ll leave you to listen to LB’s word salad at 1:25 and her toss to Frank for his work. All this lead me to add a final comment from the initial survey question:
Luckily we had many allies in attendance (among the 180 – the largest ever MEQB attendance?) as Dorie Reisenweber of Duluth asked to whom we could direct further questions and when comments would be closed. LB noted: This is not a formal comment period for the climate subcabinet but asked her folks if there is something on the climate change website. Or she said you can forward them to her as the Chair of the Subcommittee and that they will look at where we can gather comments. [Uh, if you’re presenting about engagement, think you’d know if there was a way for folks to leave input at the website? Maybe I’m too critical. They’re new, right? FFS.] Mary notes that there is a comment email on the website.
The last question was also pretty great – asking about capitalism and monetary incentives and how we drive policy to incentivize carbon-neutral practices. [Laura seriously mentioned permitting and how we can look at environmental justice committees in permitting work. Wow, like salt in the wound for all the Tribal members opposing Line 3 in the state? Pretty fucking harsh, LB… pretty fucking harsh.]
Meanwhile, Greta issued a response to the UK and their obtuse leaders who seem to ALSO not get the climate catastrophe we’re in and the urgent need for redress. The ask for no more fossil fuel infrastructure – especially for a tar sands pipeline of all fucking things – seems an easy place to start with a mitigation and adaptation decision.
Oh, and if you haven’t yet read Hank Green‘s new book (and the first one), you need to? Blogs on that too… as Water Protector work allows. As you can see, with an MEQB, MPCA, MDNR like the ones we have, it’s an uphill battle. Every day.