When we moved to northern Minnesota back in 2016 we were pretty surprised to see so much animosity towards the Minnesota DNR. We’d moved to Minnesota for the abundant water and large trees we found in Clearwater County. We figured the hunting and fishing crowd would be real excited about what the DNR typically does – making trails into forests for ATVs, managing woodlands and wetlands (so we thought) for the citizenry, and generally assuring their Mission:
The mission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is to work with Minnesotans to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life.“
After 7 years of work in trying to protect the clean waters within our landscape, we’ve watched the DNR work more towards destruction than anything. They’ve been helped along by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency but we’re focused on the DNR for today’s Emergency Blog.
Perhaps taking a look at the DNR’s explanation of their mission statement will give some clues…
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources works to integrate and sustain the interdependent values of a healthy environment, a sustainable economy, and livable communities. DNR’s integrated resource management strategy shares stewardship responsibility with Minnesotans and partners to manage for multiple interests. DNR protects the state’s natural heritage by conserving the diversity of natural lands, waters, and fish and wildlife that provide the foundation for Minnesota’s recreational and natural resource-based economy (M.S. 84, M.S. 97A). DNR manages natural lands such as forests, wetlands, and native prairies; maintains healthy populations of fish and wildlife; and protects rare plant and animal communities throughout the state. DNR manages the state’s water resources, sustaining healthy waterways and ground water resources. DNR provides access to enrich public outdoor recreational opportunities, such as hunting, fishing, wildlife-watching, camping, skiing, hiking, biking, motorized recreation, and conservation education through a state outdoor recreation system that includes parks, trails, wildlife management areas, scientific and natural areas, water trails, and other facilities (M.S. 86A). DNR supports natural resource-based economies, managing state forest lands for multiple forest values (M.S. 89), ensuring the maximum long-term economic return from school trust lands (M.S. 127A), and providing other economic opportunities in a manner consistent with sound natural resource conservation and management principles.”
So, it looks from here like MDNR is “managing” our natural resources for their “economic” value with their… “partners“. Yeah.
I once sat at lunch with Commissioner Strommen and asked her why it seemed the statutes for MDNR seemed mainly about overseeing the sales of natural resources and documenting to whom they sold them. She asked if I’d read the whole statute… but couldn’t tell me more about why they aren’t just about that. So I asked for her proudest achievement as Commissioner of the DNR. Now… granted, this was December 3, 2019… so maybe she hadn’t been in the job long enough to find a better one… still, her answer was pretty disappointing. She mentioned being super excited for a DNR public town hall that was REALLY well attended! I was nonplussed.
Today, we found another opportunity for a public gathering with the MN DNR and I’m betting she wasn’t NEARLY as excited about it. Let’s find out what happened!
The meeting was scheduled for 2 PM – ironically, at the same time many Environmental Groups opposed to Line 3 were ALSO meeting. Hmmm… No coincidence there? Divide and Conquer – that is the way of Empire.
Gail Nosek, Communications Director for the MN DNR encouraged attendance with her re-tweet of the event:
So… I had to ask – afterwards:
Turns out, THIS was more the result of their “Office Hours” meeting:
What questions DID they hear? It seems the DNR was excited to tweet about that too! Though, as noted by the Minnesota Department of Snark, those didn’t include mine…
So, what was my question? I’m glad you asked!!! …though the MN DNR didn’t quite answer it.
My question is in regards understanding how the Minnesota DNR as land manager will adequately address climate change in Minnesota, especially as Commissioner Strommen mentioned the power of trees, and others spoke of water mgmt, both of which factor into my question.
In addition to other concerns in my past experience with MDNR, my recent reading of the Restoration and Replacement Order issued to Enbridge on their Line 3 project, troubled me as the DNR, following not just one or two but at LEAST SEVEN reports from the Independent Environmental Monitors, did nothing to intervene with expertise.
The February 2, 2021 report noted: “Due to excessive groundwater infiltration the site was backfilled and sheet piling was initiated. Despite backfill, groundwater has flowed to the surface.”
I’d ask WHY at that time NO ONE with MORE EXPERIENCE from the DNR came to review the situation. What did the Monitors think of this unrelenting groundwater flow? Why was this not seen as a situation that might require more expertise than theirs?
On February 20th, a Saturday, even the Environmental Resources Management group’s Technical Director “agreed that the turbidity was unusual for a well point dewatering”…
Mid-March (on the 13th, 15th, & 16th) provided several reports in close succession regarding fine clay sediments and included in the final report a notice that “Enbridge issued [itself] an unacceptable report for improper dewatering structure” yet there was STILL NO MENTION from Enbridge OF A DIVERSION FROM THEIR CONSTRUCTION PERMIT, which might have assisted in far earlier resolution than a full three months later, when on June 15th, the IEMs happened to be asked by DNR staff about the “uncontrolled flow at the Clearbrook Terminal” of which (reportedly) “DNR staff were not previously aware”.
How were the DNR staff unaware when there were at least 7 reports regarding this situation in Q1? This mid-June report also notes: “Though the condition generated an Enbridge-issued “unacceptable” report in March, Enbridge did not bring the issue to DNR’s attention at that point either.” Does Enbridge have to ASK THE DNR to READ THEIR REPORTS? Is ANYONE AT DNR Reading the reports? Or are you all just trusting Enbridge to do what is right and “let you know” when you might need to hold them accountable?
Mr. Doneen took action the next day demanding more information, and, the following day, informed Enbridge to stop construction at this location. Why not STOP CONSTRUCTION for ALL ENBRIDGE WORK finding such an egregious error that had gone WITHOUT RESOLUTION by ENBRIDGE for almost 6 months!?!?
A full month later, flow continued and, though a 7/7/21 email from Merjent, Enbridge’s consultant, noted Enbridge was not monitoring flow or volume since March 18th, AND the bore pit was found in excess of that allowed in DNR’s constructon permit, AND on July 8th it was reported that a SECOND emergence of UNCONTROLLED FLOW “likely a direct result of the initial breach of the aquifer confining layer”, NO FULL STOPPAGE OF PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION OCCURRED! HOW can the citizens of Minnesota TRUST that the DNR will do ANYTHING PROACTIVE to assist in Climate Change when this is how poorly they oversee a project which is known to bring an incredible amount of exacerbation to the climate chaos we are already experiencing?
Jami Gaither question during the DNR’s 9/23/21 Office Hour
You decide for yourselves. But they also didn’t answer these other questions, also in the chat…
I am not feeling you have understood my concern… that DNR is not ON SITE in a major way during construction of such a large project that impacts climate implies a “let corporations do as they will” mentality. How can we trust your stance is NOT for major corporations as the Legislature may not allow you to be more proactive?
Will Enbridge be allowed to have tar sands flow through their new pipeline BEFORE the aquifer situation is remedied?
At what point WOULD DNR pull a permit? If the company WILLFULLY VIOLATED their Construction Permit – and it remains able to build their project, that seems to indicate the Permit you issued has NO VALUE.
I’m finding the power of MSM to take people to a place where, instead of ingesting information for themselves and deciphering truth from it, people are emboldened to simply dismiss, without consideration, the input from those MSM has othered as “anti-vax” or “disinformation” mongers.
Instead of asking questions, ppl stand firmly in their silos of “TRUTH” which prop up the given narrative of the CDC, FDA, Biden Administration, Dr. Fauci… all of whom have been proven, time and again, to be ruthlessly ignoring facts, and worse, creating harm, rather than preventing it.
This is true whether the topic is the pandemic, Afghanistan, or climate change.
Here are the questions I continue to have about the ‘management’ of the pandemic in ‘Murica:
WHY are there no TREATMENTS for C0VlD-19 from the CDC? [When many are finding – AROUND THE GLOBE – that there ARE safe, effective, INEXPENSIVE treatments? 😔 Spoiler alert: If there are treatments, it negates their ability to enforce EUA vaccines – which require there being NO AVAILABLE TREATMENT.]
WHY are C0VlD+ people told to simply go home to wait and see what happens… when there are MANY GOOD SUGGESTIONS for surviving the virus? The medical community instead seemingly wants only to hospitalize (That’s the BIG $) people once they are REALLY SICK. [Though still, no real treatment… save – here in MN anyway – Remdesivier and ventilators (which other countries have found to hasten death).]
WHY are there no recommendations on immune boosting, Vitamins, sleep, diet? Instead managers and MSM promote ‘VACCINES’ as ‘OUR ONLY CURE!’ [As we see more and more breakthrough cases…]
WHY is there such a focus on the “unvaccinated infecting the vaccinated” – implying us deplorable folks – who still question the validity of mRNA vaccines as ‘fully-tested’ – are HARMING those who’ve been prudent in taking their prescribed EUA jabs? [The idea of vaccines as “safe, effective, and free” may be wrong on all three counts… as we know it is for sure on the last, as us taxpayers funded not only the development but the purchase of said jabs.]
WHY all the shaming of those – having been given no other option than vaccination – who try other means to protect themselves, be it immune system boosting, exercising, staying home, masking, and/or minimizing contacts? [Yet, even when MSM information is found to be false, like about all those horse dewormer victims filling hospitals in Oklahoma, it remains on the web. As ‘fact’.]
It feels to me the powers that be are truly getting scared of the information that is defying their idea that Vaccines are the ONLY WAY OUT of the pandemic. Is it perhaps their fear that Ivermectin could, in fact, replace MANY other patented and expensive Rx that are less effective? Are they seeing the simplicity of safe and well-known medications – used as off-label taking down their high-profit (and thus highly promoted) meds?
You know about off-label uses… like Viagra for hard-ons and Rogaine for baldness – FFS is it ONLY OK if it does something MEN want??? Fuck nurses and teachers who COULD be PROTECTED with prophylactic Ivermectin – like Argentina discovered? Or India?
Conclusion: Two-dose ivermectin prophylaxis at a dose of 300 μg/kg with a gap of 72 hours was associated with a 73% reduction of SARS-CoV-2 infection among healthcare workers for the following month. Chemoprophylaxis has relevance in the containment of pandemic.
Actually, there are lots of off-label uses… from Ativan to Beta-Blockers to Lorazapam, and MANY OTHERS that are used EVERY FUCKING DAY. Like 20% of all Rx are off-label… but suddenly, there’s an all out war to demonize Ivermection as a possible Covid treatment?
Did you hear that Merck poo-pood Ivermection – as it’s manufacturer!! What???? You don’t say??? [Whisper: they left out that they are… wait for it… No, Really, you’ll love this… They’re working on creating a new oral Covid treatment. SHHHH!!!! It’s gonna be patented and cost a TON of money because it will be so popular – a pill to prevent getting Covid, Oh, My! I mean… SHHHHH!!! Keep it under your hat]
“Merck said its new trial will study experimental drug molnupiravir for the prevention of COVID-19 among adults in the same household as someone diagnosed with symptomatic coronavirus infection.
I’m especially confused by those who can easily see the Regulatory Capture Enbridge has unleashed upon the state of Minnesota, but fail to see that Big Pharma has taken over what now seems… the entire US Government AND the control of all media.
I will continue to pursue truth. Regardless of those who lose faith in me. I’m not the first to be ostracized by those who once I thought were friend, trusted confidant, comrade.
If we get to the point of the government forcing us unvaccinated to wear a Big Yellow “A” on our chests, I sure hope none of my “friends” will go for the bounty of turning me in… as an enemy of the state.
The vaccination narratives are dangerously reminiscent of what I read about happening in Germany in the 30s… sweet potato hitler or no.
Today I’m wondering how many of those Germans back then cried all day long wondering why their fellow citizens would not awaken to the brainwashing of ‘Jew as Vermin’ from their “leaders”. 😥 At least I know they weren’t just Jews crying back then.
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?
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.]
Over the weekend, I issued an Urgent Blog Post as opposed to waiting until today. So glad that I did because today requires another URGENT Blog Post. FFS. [This, ladies and gentlemen, is your indicator. For those of you unfamiliar, from here on out, it’s Sailor Style, Trucker Style, Steel Worker Style, which means I’m not filtering the outrage. Proceed at your own risk. I know some of you quite enjoy this version of me, so, read on if you’re not familiar.]
We’re about to see a terrible collision of two things that cannot peacefully coexist: Pipeline Construction and a Pandemic.
My Saturday blog, Need is Clear… for a Stay on Line 3, explained why the Motion for Stay, filed by White Earth Band of the Ojibwe and Red Lake Band of the Chippewa, was just and valid. Even without many of the reasons noted in their Memorandum, a Stay on the Line 3 project is so obviously necessary to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Minnesotans as Mr. Walz is fond to spout.
We are seeing great increases in cases and casualties here in northern Minnesota at the virus surges. And with so many having little regard for masks, or even the virus itself as legitimate, the dangers were high in the region to start. Now, even with recent legal complaints, petitions, and motions filed and Coronavirus surging throughout the Midwest, Tim Walz seems compelled to rush through all the approvals Enbridge needs to start their tar sands pipeline ASAP. Is he trying to surpass the death figures seen in North Dakota after their recent construction project with Enbridge? It was only a 12-mile stretch so our 337-mile stretch is sure to do the trick.
Our highest daily death total yet plowed us into a 4-day holiday weekend, yet with Monday’s ALMOST ALWAYS our lowest figures for COVID, Tim Walz felt NO NEED WHATSOEVER to ask his Pollution Control Agency to consider a wait-and-see approach on their Stormwater Permits – the last ones needed by Enbridge for the project? Not even until we can see how many dead accummulate by tomorrow? Is One Thousand One Hundred Thirty-Three dead – 1133 DEAD – in November NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU, Tim???
Did the Governor give ONE FUCKING SECOND of consideration to the lives of NORTHERN MINNESOTANS. NOPE! He callously WENT AHEAD with Enbridge’s plans for a November 30th start date. And, to add salt to the wound, he also made sure his Climate Subcabinet could get started ON THE SAME MOTHERFUCKING day – in further ruse of giving an actual FUCK about Climate Change.
Ya’ think people at the funerals are going to think that was funny, Tim?
As if things could not get any more fucked up, the PUC has ordered a Hearing on the Motion for Stay for THIS FUCKING FRIDAY. So… Department of Commerce, the challenge is ON! Can you produce a Brief to join the Tribes in their urgent call for a Stay? In under 48 hours? When you likely expected that the Stormwater Permit might take a bit more consideration for a project so controversial. I feel your pain. And I sure hope you can.
It seems Tim Walz is ALL IN with Enbridge on literally “killing it” in Northern Minnesota with their new pipeline project. Who Gives a FUCK about anybody up here, eh? Just a bunch of rocks and cows, right Timmy?
“How many of your constituents are you willing to sacrifice to the Enbridge God of Oil?”
Well, a bunch of the people who live by those rocks and cows are dying. So I ask you, “How many of your constituents are you willing to sacrifice to the Enbridge God of Oil?” Their God seems to be losing steam in recent years but you don’t seem to be able to find a way out of their pocket? Even when the very lives of your citizens are at risk from the project continuing? During a MOTHERFUCKING GLOBAL PANDEMIC? FOR FUCK SAKE, Tim. Are you even gonna give us a goodbye kiss? Can you at least ACKNOWLEDGE your Negligent Homicide as we experience it?
How do you possibly look at the state of the world, the dying tar sands, the dying people – which eventually means less oil use, eh? – and NOT COMPREHEND that an ALLIANCE with Enbridge is going to send your soul straight to Hell? There is NO FUCKING WAY you can PRETEND that people aren’t dying. You can’t pretend that bringing a bunch of potential COVID super-spreaders from TX, OK, ND, WI aren’t gonna really FUCK US HARD up here in the few hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes we have.
I really don’t know what else to say. It seems there is nowhere else to turn. We’re basically being sacrificed to the Oil Gods, and no on can seemingly do a thing to stop it. Not even Tim. Not even if you give him the verbiage to clarify that his Executive Order 20-20 DOES NOT say Pipeline CONSTRUCTION is Essential. Because it is NOT. And pretending it is will cause irreparable harm to many Minnesota families. Damage that will sting for years to come as we consider the results of his heartless decision-making. Though I’m guessing even the rocks and cows might give a bit more of a Fuck than Governor Walz.
If you give a fuck about anyone up here along Enbridge’s Corridor of Death, can you give Tim a call and ask him to give a fuck too? 1-800-657-3717.
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.
Following the 9/9/20 Minnesota Environmental Quality Board meeting, I decided I needed to speak out about the travesty I witnessed.
Here’s what I have to say.
I find the MEQB’s lack of public engagement disturbing and sickening.
Where was the accountability of the MEQB Citizen Board Members in assuring a public voice was heard on the 2020 Water Plan? As public appointees are they not beholden to assure the PUBLIC has a chance to share our concerns before a vote is made? Did they not see the raised hands in the WebEx? Did they feel no urgency to stop the vote so the public concerns could be addressed? In the end, only Ben Yawakie seemed to hear and heed the public outcry that day.
I will grant that the MEQB allowed public comment on the 2020 Water Plan. However, the meeting’s disabled Chat functionallowed no interaction from the public. In fact, after my Raised Hand was ignored for some time, I emailed their tech guy – who I know – to ask for help with being able to comment. The derailing of the MEQB process during the meeting gave clear evidence to how little time and consideration was truly being offered by the MEQB for public input.
I’d like to highlight two speakers in particular from the day as they each raise issues pertinent to the way the process derailed in not allowing for true public engagement.
In the 2020 State Water Plan, you recognize treaties with the Anishinaabe people, stating ‘the ability to exercise those treaty rights depends on clean water and healthy ecosystems.’ What is omitted is how you are going to ensure the health of ecosystems and clean water.
As you acknowledge in the Water Plan, the Ojibwe word, ‘nibi’, means life-giving force. You follow that with, ‘This worldview contrasts with economic and political systems that value private property and often view land and water as commodities to buy, sell, and use.’ That is exactly what Enbridge is doing with Line 3–a climate change and water disaster that falls disproportionately on Indiginous people. How is it possible that this Water Plan talks about climate change but makes no mention of fossil fuel infrastructure, a major contributor to climate change and a threat to our water?
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, it is our time of awakening to the trifecta of race, pandemic and climate injustice. There is no denying the privilege that is represented in the, primarily white, EQB staff, appointees and agency leaders. No one gets a pass–we are all responsible for upholding treaties.
Have white courage, use your privilege! Take this opportunity to put treaties at the forefront and create a State Water Plan that is, like our water, a life-giving force to ensure healthy ecosystems and clean water for all!”
Jaci Christenson (18:30)
Jaci was followed by Joe.
Commend all of your work on a bold vision… yet I feel the cognitive dissonance I think we all feel in this plan where we address half of the problem, where we want to prepare MN waters for climate change but not prevent Climate Change or interrupt the fossil fuel infrastructure that is causing climate change that means the end of wild rice as we know it.” [This is critical when it comes to later concerns raised.]
Joe couldn’t help but feel “…in writing this aspirational plan that we’re running out of time to defend the waters that we claim to protect. … With decisions like Line 3, Commissioner Bishop, I’d just just ask the simple question of, “What is your plan in Fall 2020 with the 401 permit for Line 3 to stand up with these aspirations, particularly as we just held a Contested Case Hearing that refused to look at climate change or Treaty rights, which are both so important to this Water Plan?”
Joe Meinholz (21:54)
Chair Bishop: “Thank you.” [Note: To this point in the meeting, each speaker received a simple “thank you” from Chair Bishop after they spoke. No dialogue and certainly no response to the questions asked.]
Nine (9) additional speakers were to follow (mind you, some of us had still not been recognized for our wish to speak at that time). However, following the next speaker, Keegan Robinson, Commissioner Bishop noted:
We should stick to the Water Plan and not the individual actions and projects. But I appreciate the comments from everybody here, certainly understand and hear your concerns about protection of water and certainly that is the intention with the Water Plan is to outline ways to protect our waters and how we go forwards. So I appreciate all of you raising this but I do think that specific right now to a specific project and outlining that in the Water Report as well as the comments that we’re receiving on Line 3 seem to be a bit beyond the Water Plan itself as it is pertaining to a specific project.”
MEQB Chair Laura Bishop (25:53)
She then asked Katie how to move forward noting, “With any of the public comments, I would like to keep it on the Water Plan itself.” Katie Pratt (MEQB Executive Director) noted “several other agenda items” and that “we have a clear message” (as her phone rings in the background – someone calling to get their voice heard?) and she finishes saying, “I think we could consider moving on to our next agenda items and leaving time at the end for additional public comment.” [Remember this promise…] (27:25) Chair Bishop agreed, noting the Board would do that “unless there is a comment beyond Line 3 that we’ve missed. I appreciate this is an opportunity to talk about water protection and certainly that is the intention of any permits that are reviewed by the agency, it is with the intention to protect water as well. I’d suggest that we move on to the next agenda item.”
[At this point we still have multiple people remaining to speak. I was unable to get access to speak because the Chat in the Webex was disabled. My Raised Hand in the WebEx went ignored, as did the Raised Hands of others online.]
Nookomis joins from the phone (27:57) asking to say a few words. Chair Bishop eventually (28:18) recognizes Nookomis for comment asking for a restatement of name for the record.
Before I go on, let’s be clear: Comments from the public recognized valid concerns ~ concerns that went unanswered, over and over, as Chair Bishop was asked about where the mitigation for the causes of climate change were captured, specifically with regard to fossil fuel infrastructure, in the 2020 Water Plan.
Minnesotans care deeply about their water as evidenced by the recent Statewide Resident Survey Report from the University of Minnesota. While that report focused on agricultural concerns, the strong opposition to major infrastructure projects like mining and pipelines has been expressed at the MEQB for many, many months now. Even later in this meeting, similar concerns were raised on the Silica Sand Mine in Fillmore County.
As Willis Mattison noted during the meeting, public comment is not engagement. Engagement entails dialogue. As was reported in previous work, public engagement is CRITICAL to reaching to effective solutions that protect environmental and human health.
As Nookomis began (28:25), she introduced herself in Ojibwemowin first and then translated to English. Nookomis Debra Topping – an enrolled and recognized Fond du Lac Band Member ~ Fog Woman from Eagle Clan – called to hold the Board responsible for and accountable to their Treaty obligations. She first asked about the Winter’s Doctrine and if there is any Indigenous membership on the Board.
In Winters, the Supreme Court examined tribal rights to water associated with the Fort Belknap Reservation located in what would later become Montana. The Fort Belknap Reservation was created by an agreement in 1888 between tribal parties and the U.S. government. At the time, the government had a policy seeking to transform Native Americans from “a nomadic and uncivilized people … to become a pastoral and civilized people” by providing them lands to develop for such purposes.
By 1905, the area experienced water shortages that ultimately resulted in the Winters lawsuit being filed to enforce tribal rights to water against non-Indian water users who had been diverting water from the region. In announcing its decision, the Court explained that the lands provided under the agreement for the purpose of developing an agrarian society “were arid and, without irrigation, were practically valueless.” The Court also noted that ambiguities in the agreement, such as the status of the water rights related to the land, are to be “resolved from the standpoint of the Indians,” as a rule of interpretation. The Court held that:
The power of the Government to reserve the waters and exempt them from appropriation under the state laws is not denied, and could not be. That the Government did reserve them we have decided, and for a use which would be necessarily continued through the years.
The Court has continued to recognize the principle derived from Winters in both Indian and nonIndian contexts. In 1976, the Court noted that it “has long held that when the Federal Government withdraws its land from the public domain and reserves it for a federal purpose, the Government, by implication, reserves appurtenant water then unappropriated to the extent needed to accomplish the purpose of the reservation.”
(29:58) Ben Yawakie, 3rd Congressional District Citizen Board Member, noted he is an enrolled citizen of the Pueblo Zuni and also a descendant of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and he later clarified that he was not familiar with the Winter’s Doctrine.
Nookomis continued, inquiring if there had been any Tribal consultation, noting both MN Statutes 103B.151 Coordinating Water Resource Planning and 103A.43 as making no specific mention of Tribal Consultation. She asked if that meant it will not happen, even if it’s in the Plan. She said, “When you’re asking for the resolution to be approved, it does not say anywhere that you have to have Tribal consultation.” The third statute she noted – 103A.204 Groundwater Policy – gave her hope for Tribal consultation as it included a list of those specifically responsible for Groundwater Policy.
Maybe this is it! Maybe this is where we come in… number 4 is the Board of Water and Soil Resources, in there it says ‘local government officials’ so… maybe there’s where I come in at? … Nowhere does it say … that you have to do Tribal consultation. I understand that you have done it… it’s in the 2020 Water Plan. I do not see… anything in there about the Winter’s Doctrine.”
Nookomis ended asking if Mr. Yawakie knew about the Winter’s Doctrine. (33:35) Citizen Board Member Ben Yawakie, answered: “Nookomis… I personally do not.”
Commissioner Bishop mentioned Erik Cedarleaf Dahl, an Indigenous MEQB staff member, as well, though he did not respond. Nookomis then asked if anyone on the Board knew of the Winter’s Doctrine, as knowing it would help them understand where they stand with her water on her reservation. She spoke also of the smell and taste of gas and oil in the rice from Sandy Lake. (34:50) At this point, Commissioner Bishop talked over Nookomis for a full twenty seconds, expressing thanks as Nookomis continued speaking in the background. Then Nookomis finished with thanks. [I was astonished at how humble Nookomis remained, after being so summarily and disrespectfully dismissed.]
There ensued a back and forth between Ms. Bishop and Ms. Pratt regarding the concerns Nookomis brought forth. Ms. Pratt mentioned both that the Water Plan is a “starting point, not ending point” and that Executive Order 19-24 directs state agencies to recognize and properly interact with the Sovereign Nations in MN. [However, this document makes no mention of the MEQB.] She also noted that the Water Plan actions are recommendations which will be implemented and that will include appropriate tribal engagement. [Recommendations implies no requirements for action? This is not making me feel confident at all…]
(37:00) Chair Bishop then noted some necessary minor adoptions on Goals 5 & 3 to wrap up the work on adopting the plan. … Fisheries mgmt clarification and inclusion of insurance in the role of risk mitigation for climate change, with staff discretion to make these corrections. Then (37:50) she asked for a motion to adopt with these changes, which was moved by Thom Peterson and seconded by Al Forsberg.
This is the point (38:38) at which Willis Mattison objected to the proceedings, asking to file a formal objection, pointing out the Staff and Board had obviously not allocated sufficient time for public participation during the last MEQB meeting or this meeting regarding the Plan and its deficiencies. He said he “understands expediency… nevertheless, the public is important.” He noted this appears to be a railroad job, disrespectful to the engagement policy when dialogue is not allowed. He filed a major objection. (40:08) Ms. Bishop allowed him to speak once he assured her his comments were not for Line 3 but the Plan.
NOTE: The fact that a formal public objection – to the Water Plan vote being taken – was simply dismissed by MEQB Chair Bishop – with NO Board discussion – was perhaps our second best indicator during the meeting that the public voice was not truly wanted.
The best indicator was when Chair Bishop entertained a motion to adjourn (2:35:47) at the end of the meeting, giving NO ALLOWANCE for those in the public who, earlier in the meeting, were promised a chance to speak at the end. [I was one of many who remained online awaiting a chance to be heard.]
The MEQB is Badly Broken
Mr. Mattison, a retired ecologist from the MPCA, made an excellent point that the 2020 Water Plan, while it “had much to compliment in its ecological wisdom”, was clearly and simply another example, similar to previously passed aspirational plans, that lack metrics for true accountability, and which have gotten us to where we are today. Today, where we face a continued loss of quality waters and wetlands and where an insect apocalypse portends humanity’s own fragile state on the planet. These are things we citizens have discussed many times with the MEQB in recent years. Mr. Mattison notes that, without incorporation of these concerns, the Water Plan is “flawed and useless”. A strategic plan is worthless unless there are metrics for accountability to the achievements. He asked if the MEQB had willingness to expand plans where citizens can hold agencies accountable.
(45:40) Chair Bishop responded but allowed no dialogue, saying to Mr. Mattison, “Your three minutes is up.”
While the Chair did allow for two additional comments (41:20) on the Water Plan after this additional urging that citizens be heard, I still awaited even recognition of my desire to speak. [I began to re-write my comments… which eventually led to this blog.]
(46:05) Lori Cox explained that the Water Plan’s words “ensure and manage mean something is going to be done. In agriculture we have a tough time saying that those things are going to be managed or ensured.” “We continually see the words “voluntary” in agriculture. And that has been used repeatedly… the stakeholders have been loud about that, however we still… with MPCA numbers and very great coordination and statistics by state agencies, have shown that we’re not really moving the line there.” She asked, noting these are almost promises using the words “manage and ensure about water quality”, that the Board take a look at the wording in Agriculture, and expressed concern that, if approved today, the plan would not bring change.
I’m not positive that there would be much more change, with all of the great recommendations, suggestions, programs that are already there and have been for years, that we’re really gonna move the needle.”
Lori Cox (48:16)
(49:06) Gearhardt Robinson, recent U of MN grad with a BS in sustainable systems management with an emphasis on energy systems, expressed that there was very comprehensive information in the Plan. However, for the Plan to be meaningful, it must not only mitigate the effects of climate change, but target the root causes of it… something well within our capabilities and authorities to do. (51:28) He congratulated the work of Commissioner Kelley of the DOC in re-filing the Appeal for Line 3 and urged ALL Commissioners to do what they could to file suits, deny permits, and do all the things in their power to protect Minnesotans and our water quality.
“To me it seems this plan isn’t really much of a plan, it’s kind of just abstract goals that really don’t have tangible ways to achieve them.”
Gearhardt Robinson (50:41)
(51:40) Gearhardt also noted that the use of the word “attack” [by Margaret Anderson Kelliher] in regard to the commenters asking for MPCA Commissioner Bishop to uphold her accountability to the public, was an interesting choice of words – one that implied some sort of violence. He noted that what the citizens speaking up today are doing is not “violent”, but simply “help you make the right decision that will prevent violence against Indigenous Peoples, against land, and against all future generations.”
52:05/52:12) Chair Bishop then cut him off saying, “Thank you. Mr. Robinson, I appreciate that and … you talk about climate resilience and we do have another inter-agency group, the Climate Subcabinet that is working on larger plans that address climate.” [To my knowledge, that Climate Subcabinet has yet to be populated with membership or take any actions. I’ve never been contacted on my own submission… though it looks like there are 231 applications now, so perhaps I’m on the list yet to be contacted?]
Each agenda item in the meeting – not only the 2020 Water Plan, but also the Minnesota Sands, LLC project and the 2020 State Agency Pollinator Report – showed that the MEQB and its agencies are NOT fulfilling their missions. This brought me deja vu to the May 1st, 2019 MEQB where Chuck Dayton, co-founder of this work, remonstrated that the original intentions for the MEQB were not being upheld these many decades later. He indicated that the MEQB needed to re-evaluate their work to figure out why they were failing. He noted a lack of effective Environmental Review, with very few EIS, and an apparent inability to connect scientific dots to make decisions to prevent water quality deterioration.
As we watch water quality deteriorate and agencies make decisions based on checksheets that do not represent the complexity of the decisions being made, we see our young people standing up more and more – screaming for those in power to heed their cries to save the planet. They are watching as groups like the MEQB make decisions that wipe away their futures.
So, rather than push the vote to the end of the meeting, when ALL Water Plan commenters could be heard, Chair Bishop pushed through the vote before hearing the full public voice, making no response to the questions asked, and then closing the meeting asking for a motion to adjourn before she returned to those still awaiting their chance to speak on the Water Plan. [Note: (2:36:10) Gerald Van Amberg, Board of Water and Soil Resources Chair, moved to adjourn and Kristen Eide-Tollefson seconded.]
The only Board member to speak to Nookomis’ concerns was Kristen Eide-Tollefson, 2nd Congressional District Citizen Board Member. She asked (53:11) if an addition could be made for Tribal consultation to the necessary discrete section. Erik Cedarleaf Dahl noted the section on Page 23 of the Plan which explained how the Tribal Consultation would occur. The fact that this Board is working on Minnesota issues but IGNORING their obligations to Federal Law, as explained by Nookomis in her questions on the Winter’s Doctrine, seemed a good reason to stop the vote… though it did not.
And how disturbing was that vote? Unanimous… save ONE LONE vote of NAY from Ben Yawakie, an Indigenous Member of the Board. The only response from the Board was to ask him to re-state his vote. [As if in disbelief that he’d voted “nay”?] A short silence followed as no one asked for more clarity from Ben on his vote and then… business moved on to the next agenda item. There has not been a more CLEAR example in all my MEQB experience of the Native voice being summarily ignored as I bore witness to in the 9/9/20 meeting.
The MEQB might want to ask themselves what the ramifications are for ignoring a US Supreme Court decision. I’ve often thought, this Line 3 fight ~ and perhaps Polymet too, could end up being quite costly for the state of Minnesota, as its agencies collude with foreign corporations to push unnecessary pipeline and mining projects throughout Northern Minnesota Indian Country, all in violation of Federal Law.
Perhaps Commissioner Kelley could have saved Minnesota taxpayers a lot of money in winning the case in State Court that there is No Need for Line 3… before the project goes on to Federal Court? Senate Republicans may end up regretting “executing” him – to use the Republican House Leader Daudt’s word – by not confirming him to his Commission at the Department of Commerce. I am hopeful the Department is strong enough to continue their good work, though they’ve experienced an unconscionable dismissal of their wonderfully effective and caring leader, something harder and harder to find these days.
As I indicated in my last note to MEQB Project Coordinator Giuseppe Tumminello, on their Environmental Review Data Mgmt Program, it seems that agencies and governments move too slow to keep pace with the changing planet. Gardhardt’s testimony at the meeting – that more of California was on fire than EVER in our recorded history – was alarming. And we’re only now at the start of the fire season. We have almost contiguous fire along the West Coast of our country from Canada to Mexico, but the MEQB, MPCA & MDNR seemed geared to go full steam ahead on their failing programs and plans that will dramatically increase climate effects in our state and for our planet as a whole.
If we are to have a hope to save our natural environment for continued human support, the MQEB and ALL Minnesota agencies, politicians, and citizens are gonna have to get a lot more serious about solutions.
And, as I have assured Giuseppe in recent emails, it may well be that, in the end, we resolve this with pitchforks. It seems to be the only way in America these days.
Interviewing Nookomis subsequent to the meetings about her testimony allowed me to better understand her points:
There were 15 speakers at MEQB and all expressed concerns about theWater Plan.
At one time there were 96 attendees in the meeting.
The Board voted with only one vote heeding the speakers.
Changes are being seen in the manoomin (wild rice), which is a product of its environment – like us all. Rice from Sandy Lake smells of gas and oil. Rice from Fond du Lac doesn’t smell or taste oily.
Understanding the Winter’s Doctrine allows the MEQB to comprehend their MORAL AND LEGAL obligations to Fond du Lac reservation, its Members, and the waters that serve them. These are Federal obligations to assure water rights for the Indigenous, as upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.
If Manoomin (wild rice) is not protected, it will not thrive. Once Manoomin is gone, so is Anishinaabeg. THAT is the genocide ~ a systematic and purposeful elimination of a Culture and and a People.
What she said while Laura spoke over her was this:
What I wanted to say is that I’m done being invisible. I don’t care if you try to over talk me, I’m done being invisible! You can come here any time. You will hear me and you will see me for as long as I live. And you need to be able to say what I’m doing, seeing. Yes. I appreciate you listening. Thank you. Thank you very much.”
When asked of the discussion on personal “attack” during the meeting, Nookomis shared that these words resonated with her. These agencies and boards are responsible to protect the water. NOT protecting her WATER is a PERSONAL ATTACK! It is also a violation of Treaty Law, the highest law of the land. Nookomis said, “My legal rights are not dependent on your personal feelings. You are personally attacking me by poisoning my water.”
She wondered aloud how the schooling of these Commissioners had failed them as they seemed to not be able to comprehend simple concepts like water, soil, and food being connected to human health… let alone the larger connections to the climate of the planet as a whole.
Nookomis further expressed that “Commissioner Bishop is in over her head and does not understand all she needs to know, in order to do her job to PROTECT MINNESOTA’S WATER. THAT is her only job. Water quality indicates she is derelict in her duties. This is not just on the reservation but affects every single Minnesotan. 5.6 Million people. The 15 people on the call represented that concern. 300 written comments seemed acceptable to the MPCA. “That’s how many people I have in my immediate family!”, she said.
She also noted that there was no explanation of the 1837, 1854, & 1855 ceded territories in the Plan. She offered to walk the line (proposed route) with anyone, any time, any day. She said you might want to pack a big lunch!
She noted as well that there was no mention of Tribal Fisheries in the discussion of modifications needed. The list of things left unsaid was long, she lamented.
We have a long way to go to solutions, indeed. But Let’s Get to BETTER!*
* “Met” Chrysta Casteneda today at a talk that could help that MEQB comprehend what major issues they are not seeing… as the landscape on oil and gas becomes very fluid.
Looks like Tribes and Environmentalists lose again…
The federal Environmental Protection Agency this week approved dramatic changes in Minnesota’s water quality rules.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency worked on the revisions for ten years and formally proposed the changes last winter. But the federal approval has left environmental activists reeling.
Minnesota has a set of rules that apply to industries, wastewater treatment plants, anyone who discharges significant quantities of wastewater into a stream or lake. The rules are designed to protect water quality, and they typically set numeric limits on such things as salts, pH, calcium, magnesium, chloride and other elements. The new rules eliminate many of the numeric limits and instead call for a narrative description, which typically describes the general conditions desired in the water body.
Paula Maccabee, advocacy director for Water Legacy, a nonprofit watchdog that follows environmental issues, said she can’t understand the approval. The organization sent detailed comments to the MPCA as it was developing the rules and to the EPA as it was considering the rule changes. “I simply believe it is not only dangerous for Minnesota but a violation of the Clean Water Act,” she said. “And why neither of those facts were salient to the EPA, I can’t fathom.”
And Enbridge STILL hasn’t repaired the Clearbrook Terminal Aquifer Breach they created 1/21/21… though the deadline to avoid fines ended yesterday… same day as these rule changes. Hmmm. And we wonder why a child killed a government leader in the UK recently? A friends says, “Start killing politicians and they’ll figure out we’re serious.” Never have liked the idea… but feels like he’s more right every day. We’ll see what happens in the UK.
Well, it has been quite a week here at the HARN. There is so much to cover I don’t hardly know where to start.
I’ll start with the overthrow of the Democratic Governor in Minnesota.
It seems the Republicans have decided that they are gonna fire a Commissioner every 30 days as they bring them up for “confirmation”. Yes, in normal proceedings, where politicians are mature and not working corrupt control mechanisms, confirmations are a standard part of everyday government. But in Minnesota, where there is no time frame for these “confirmations” to be completed (our Governor assumed office Jan.7th, 2019) and NOW the Republicans are basically hostage-taking in order to push Governor Walz to their will – REOPEN it ALL with No Masks and Let’s Build Line 3!
Now, I’m all for them taking out players who are not performing for Minnesota but when they try to take out a guy like Steve Kelley? FFS.
Like nearly everyone involved in the third special session of the Minnesota Legislature — other than the 35 members of the Senate GOP caucus — Walz learned that Nancy Leppink would be removed as commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry by text message just minutes before it happened Wednesday.
The sender was Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. The time was 3:29 p.m. And the recipients of the message were Walz and Senate DFL leadership. Gazelka told the group he had the votes to oust Leppink.
House GOP Leader Kurt Daudt put it more bluntly: “Looks like the Senate is executing a prisoner today,” he tweeted during the debate on Leppink.
Now, I’m not so involved with Labor & Industry to know what is what with this plan, but it seems that labor groups, from SEIU to the building trades, opposed her removal. But Republicans don’t GAF about what the PEOPLE want, they only want to push through their agenda for power? Here’s what Walz had to say:
In a media briefing Wednesday night, Walz rejected Senate criticism that Leppink had been too inflexible when enforcing regulations for business owners and operators in the state.
“To have Nancy Leppink get caught in the middle of a petty, political move puts Minnesotans at danger and highlights the fact that I’m so disappointed that Senate Republicans are not taking COVID seriously and they’re not taking the safety of Minnesotans seriously.”
That said, I am heavily involved with the Line 3 fight and what I saw with the Department of Commerce Commissioner Kelley confirmation hearing was pretty disturbing. It began with the Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy Committee where Commissioner Kelley gave his background and defended his department’s work, noting specific people who have been instrumental in his opening statement. Chair Dahms and Chair Osmek presided.
Kelley’s background is unquestionable in its preparation for his current role. His work in the MN Legislature showed a bipartisan history of collaboration for good. Representative Rhodes wrote a letter on his behalf. Kelley had, over the years, invited many Legislators to speak in his classes, including Senator Pratt (who questioned Kelley in this session). Kelley’s history of working for Minnesotans clearly showed him to be competent and effective.
Kelley also walks us through the work done during the pandemic which worked closely with the industry. He mentions the things he’s done ALONGSIDE Republicans to help Minnesotans and Minnesota businesses, including a “model example” from March, developed with Chair Dahms, for flexibility to help Minnesotans in the crisis. His list of good works was inclusive of both parties and citizens as stakeholders and developers. He mentions the regular session bipartisan Renewable Development Account Bill, passed with help from Senators Osmek and Wagenius. He worked with resolving the high level of utility shutoffs on Tribal Lands along with Chair Dahms. And the work with consumer protections wrapped up his presentation, including a new Fraud Ombudsman who helps assure investigations are effective for our Seniors. He leads with collaboration and consultation. [He finishes at 16 minutes into the recording.]
The case against him? The “recent” concerns brought by this hearing? Chair Dahms mentions rule making in pharmacy benefit managers legislation, insurance legislation in the data call system, and workers compensation for the first hour will be followed by Energy at 10 until 10:15 and then other questions to wrap around 10:30.
Rulemaking for PBM concerns are limited for public postings to the rulemaking documents precluding participation, including “unanswered questions from your staff”. Kelley explains the advisory panel to create transparency and assure an open process. This is the first he’s heard of phamacists inability to access the system. However, they have dealt with complaints from them which are outside the jurisdiction of the state and perhaps those are the complaints you reference? Also, have worked on paying claims… [Now he’s interrupted… insurance claims for riots are not related to PBM.] Bobby Jo Champion interrupts to ask about ground rules – if the Commissioner is offering information to explain his department’s work, it is not fair to cut him off. In addition, seems this is pre-scripted with some who have things to put forward and with little room left for those who have questions to ask as well. [And Kelley is given some leeway to expound? NOPE, back to the Senator questioning him!]
Senator Koran Asking about access to the rulemaking – by login only? Make it more transparent? Kelley explains the process of communicating concerns without use of the online forms, though they are used for efficiency purposes – a good data mgmt tool. [Slight scuffle as Senator Champion is reminded to raise his hand. (Note: this is nothing compared to the patronizing tone Dahms gives him later).]
Senator Pratt comes on board with the workers comp concerns. This is a thorough discussion where Kelley stands for citizens to assure payments are received and the decisions, made in scurry to the COVID Pandemic, were made with consultation. [It seems that this is a nitpicking about not deciding this in the way the Senators wanted.] Referencing the CARES Act, Pratt says it was a source. Kelley mentions the ongoing disagreement from the MMB decision that says this was not the case. Not something that can be resolved today… but being guided by MMB, DOC made the decisions they did.
Pratt relinquishes his time to Senator Utke on the data calls. [OMFG! You have to go look at this guy’s backdrop! Bet he’s having wet dreams about Trump’s face on Mt. Rushmore.] Senator Pratt hosted the meeting, Rosen, Champion, Haden also there, along with Dahms! Attempt to ID solutions for losses due to civil unrest. Important to know what was covered by insurance and Kelley noted this was one of the things that DOC could do! The department looked at the data call referenced and it seems the Republicans are asking about how LONG this will take – are we creating a paperwork mandate? do they need to report out EVERY 2 week? – but in truth, they are ONLY CONCERNED about the ask on RACE (it’s coming). WHY does this matter??? [Well, for those of you unfamiliar yet with the systemic racism, it’s likely the only way to find out if there are discriminatory practices!] Utke was also concerned about the small insurers – ARE WE HASSLING THEM FOR THESE DATA CALLS? Kelley assures that the DOC made clear that those without filings were not required to respond with bi-weekly updates.
Utke’s last follow-up was on complaints from insurers to the department. Kelley counters with stories of complaints about payment from Minnesota businesses. [WHO is standing for the People?] And here’s where Dahms comes in with the Race questions… [48:10] which Kelley, along with support from Senator Champion, fully shows why this is required and how it is done with regard to assuring citizen protection. [Dahms gives a flip response at 52:22 requiring Bobby Joe to take a stand. This is where he gives Bobby Joe a BIG BUNCH OF PATRONIZING!]
Senator Dibble jumps in [56:10] to make clear that this dismissing Commissioner Kelley’s explanations is not based in reason. He asks Kelley to expand on what the agency has done for proactive outreach on businesses in his district affected by civil unrest. Kelley mentions his Director of Outreach and Public Engagement Leah Wilkes and her fine work. He also mentions the full collaboration of the work, including aspects being implemented based on industry recommendations.
Now, the transition to Energy with Senator Osmek… Here’s the Line 3 issue.
DOC Appeal to PUC was “disappointing”… with Osmek first asking about why Line 3 is running at half capacity. FFS. Kelley acknowledges the policy disagreements between Senators and Commissioners noting its impossible for all to be in agreement on all issues. Kelley notes that the USACE has advised Enbridge to operate at less than full capacity. [This is based on their HORRIBLE TRACK RECORD FOR SPILLS – no one mentioned that.]
From Brainard coverage in June, the case is clear. Note the use of the word SUPPLY, NOT DEMAND, from Enbridge’s spokeswoman:
In May, the (DOC) said the PUC did not consider a long-range demand forecast because Enbridge instead submitted a pipeline utilization forecast that assumed demand would continue at 2016 refinery capacity.
“To the contrary, and as the (PUC) has always recognized, supply forecasts are critical to the evaluation of need for a crude oil pipeline. By definition, crude oil pipelines transport crude oil from a given starting point to one or several endpoints. If insufficient supply exists at the starting point, all of the downstream analysis in the world is pointless,” Enbridge attorney Christina Brusven wrote. “Therefore, the (PUC) properly considered supply forecasts in its order.”
[So, basically, as long as there is oil to sell, Enbridge will ship it! And Minnesotans will pay for their infrastructure, even though the crude will NOT supply Minnesota refineries. I think it’s pretty clear from the financial collapse in Big Oil at present that their assumptions about oil use were QUITE optimistic. More on that below…]
Now Osmek moves to tech of current FF industry… safer option can certainly put in, compared to 60 years ago… Kelley notes the STATUTE directs attention to a different issue, the question of whether the proponent of a pipeline has produced a long range demand forecast and whether the PUC has evaluated that forecast. Since taxpayers are FOOTING THE BILL for the infrastructure development, the DOC must assure that this project is NECESSARY before asking the taxpayers for their hard-earned dollars.
While Osmek goes on and on about how the DOC never mentioned this – referencing historical decisions of the service of the DOC – ALL PRIOR TO STEVE KELLEY’S TENURE! Kelley puts him away soundly with facts, noting that when he joined in January 2019, after Dayton Administration had already appealed on basis of no long-range demand forecast. “In the end the record will reflect which one of us is correct.” Indeed.
While Osmek goes on to attach the “expert” the DOC referenced… noting this person has never testified on oil markets… [uh, there’s a first time for everything? FFS, these guys are so silly in their pickings!] He then notes the 4-1 vote recently by the PUC ruling AGAIN to move forward – moving ahead without the demand forecast and they are the “objective, non-biased, regulatory authority that has jurisdiction”. Kelley explains [1:09:30] how things work. [Govt 101 for the Senators who are so confused…] He notes the expertise provided by both PUC and DOC and that DOC is working for the public interest. The statutory law requires that the commission shall evaluate a long-range demand forecast.
Osmek then notes AGAIN INCORRECTLY – that the PUC can CHOOSE TO IGNORE THEIR OWN RULES! Aren’t you getting it, Commissioner Kelley??? THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT!!! The DOC is a wing of the Walz Administration – political!! [FFS. Wow. Again, this is just another instance of the accuser showing his hand…] “Boggles my mind… PUC in their august opinion… determined it is completely and wholely unnecessary. Same old worn-out answer that it’s in the statutes when the PUC says it is unnecessary.” [You decide who is being “political”…] Kelley shows clearly which of them is in this discussion is acting maturely and with responsibility to the law [Kelley is legally trained!].
Senator Rarick then jumps on – his constituents are ready for this to go and he’s a member of the building trades. [He too appears to have missed the recent Jen McEwen landslide in Duluth, unseating the Good ol’ Boy candidate Simonson.] Kelley assures him the Department is looking for jobs that can easily be implemented, including providing the PUC with information on job potentials to potentially create jobs in Minnesota. [Uh, “I threw in jobs just because…” uh, Kelley derailed you?] Rarick switches to WHY DID DOC PICK ONE SIDE? Kelley disagrees with this characterization. What DOC has chosen to do is carry out their responsibility to the law as directed by this body!! The false argument is that this is a fight between environment and jobs but the statute we are evaluating is whether there is a need for an energy facility of this kind. [1:21:20]
“I think you’d understand with me why this is not just a technical issue, it’s important because the costs of these facilities are ultimately paid by consumers. Another kind of facility that’s included in the statute is transmission lines. And if there’s not a long-range demand forecast that supports the need for a transmission line, then we wouldn’t want consumers or rate payers to pay for the costs of that transmission line in the same way that if there’s not a need for um this um for the pipeline, uh if the company has not met the standards in the statute for demonstrating that need, we wouldn’t want consumers to have to pay for it.”
Steve Kelley, Department of Commerce Commissioner, testifying on the DOC Appeal for Need on Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline project proposal 8/21/20.
Rarick believes this role lies with the PUC but he is mistaken. “I don’t understand this decision.” Yes, that is clear. Then Senator Rosen pushes on WHO’S DECISION THIS WAS. [Again, showing that this is really an attack on Walz, not Kelley. He is collateral damage that may result from the Senate’s short-sighted political games.] She notes the rules of engagement change all the time… has questions about this expert – would like to know more about that decision, how much that expert cost and how much litigation will cost the taxpayers. Kelley notes that she asked this question last year, and that Deputy Commissioner Sulivan answered that the costs lie with the AG’s office, not the DOC. He disagreed that rules of engagement have changed noting the Department has been consistent on this. Rosen says the rules of engagement has changed with the demand forecast requirement suddenly just “popping up”. [Rather than comment, he let’s her own idiocy speak for her. I mean, for FUCK’S SAKE, it’s the LEGISLATURE’s OWN MOTHERFUCKING REQUIREMENT!!]
Utke returns to pile on about discussions in 2019 on the “ill advised appeals” when you were “new on the job”. Driven by Governor’s office… but your office not standing up for what’s right or what’s wrong… [Uh, yeah, here’s your chance to NOT fall on the sword as we try to execute Walz via “executing” his Commissioners.] Utke notes the whole state is suffering from the Exec Orders that have shut down our businesses – “lot of small places will not survive… this would be a tremendous economic boost”. Seriously? Workers, temporarily coming through and “buying food, lodging,… supplies”. REALLY??? A month of extra shoppers for food and lodging does NOT AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN make. Kelley again reiterates his service in the Legislature with many members in these committees, denoting that even when at odds, he was always trying to do what was right and he will stand on his history. He remembers visiting with Utke on this topic as he introduced himself and doesn’t disregard how he and the people in his district [NOT ALL OF US] feel about this pipeline though he does have a requirement to carry out the statute.
Senator Dibble comes on to express the views of Senator Latz [1:30:00](currently without ability to testify due to signal as he’s on vacation with family) – noting his support for Commissioner Kelley. “Normal tensions… but no complaints or concerns, views Kelley as affirmatively reaching out… to regulated industries, and to his credit he has not lobbied GOP or Gazelka on his behalf and in the past many in the (Republican) party have credited the Commissioner with being responsive and working collaboratively as well.” Dibble then goes on to note [1:30:57 and I do love his chuckle at 1:31:10]:
“I just want to say, with respect to these comments on the PUC and Line 3, these issues around demand forecast have been around for a number of years and the nature of the comments and the speech we just heard from Senator Utke and others are actually asking the Commissioner to PICK A SIDE and to make a decision based on politics and not the law. He is entrusted with upholding the law and the public’s interest, as we authorized in the law, and the PUC and its view is not sacrosanct and I’ve heard on many occasions members of the majority party complaining about PUC decisions, … and all the dynamics around the decision that the PUC has made. The process is set forth so that the PUC is NOT a court of law and in fact the decisions that the PUC make are appealable to the Courts. That’s the PROCESS. And I’ll just say that, with respect to myself, I have strenuously disagreed with decisions that Commerce has made, as well as other state agencies, and in fact challenging laws that we have passed and have been on the losing side of those. It never causes me to question the integrity of and the competency and the capacity of the Agency nor the Commissioner. It motivates me to do MY JOB, which is to move and shape public opinion and such that laws can be changed.”
Note how he talks about HIS wheelhouse NOT being to DICTATE over other parts of the government but to do his job to HEAR THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE in order to shape law to what will serve THEM. THIS is a politician for the People, not for Enbridge. He goes on to say [1:33:01]:
Line 3 raises a LOT of questions that concern the environment and the public’s interest and those need to be vetted and tested out against the laws that we set forth around decisions on these matters. We all have our views and whether or not they’re supported by the law is really up to us to figure out those dictates and those parameters. So I think with these closing minutes I just want to say that I thought Commissioner Kelley’s opening comments and his responses to how he has been proactively reaching out, particularly to disaffected and marginalized communities in the aftermath of this civil unrest as well as those who maybe get the short end of the stick vis-a-vis the very very powerful insurance lobby speaks very very well to principles and the values and the competence and capacity he brings to this job. I thank you for having this hearing because it really shows what an amazing incredibly qualified Commissioner he is. That being said, I have to say I believe this has been a kangaroo hearing. You had a list of people you wanted to ask specific curated questions and you jumped right to them, didn’t give really any of us the opportunity and you’re cutting this hearing short. So clearly sounds like decisions have already been made and you know no matter what Commissioner Kelley has said, a decision has been made somewhere else about what’s ultimately going to become of this confirmation. So I just want the public to know that Commissioner Kelley has clearly shown himself to be highly qualified. Governor Walz is to be commended for putting him in this place and if his confirmation doesn’t stand, we’ll know that this decision was made somewhere else for other reasons.”
Senator Pratt then takes over to reiterate the questions from Senator Rosen. Looking at May 1st, page 13, the commission says it carefully reviewed the record… later in the record on page 16… Commission continues to conclude consequences” for denial are bigger than the consequences of approval. SO! They think they are PHMSA?? The PUC has NO AUTHORITY regarding the safety of the pipelines in Minnesota!! Again asking about the decision source for the Appeal. Kelley again says the Department is responsible and it is his decision but that he works to assure support of the Governor and Lt. Governor. Pratt reiterates, and is confirmed by Kelley, that the Governor “concurs” with the decision.
Kelley’s concludes with a closing statement at 1:37:33, finding himself near tears as he speaks of his people. Surely it is clear that the Republicans are playing political games that adversely affect the citizens of Minnesota.
Related to the government takeover is the continued evidence of failing Big Oil, which continues to be propped up by subsidies while it is promoted by the Right. But things aren’t making sense financially for us to ever see a “return to normal”.
Between 2010 and 2014 the average price of a barrel of oil was between $85 a barrel and $110 a barrel. This fell to $65 in 2016, and to $56 in 2017. Since 10 March, prices are below $30 a barrel. This is catastrophic for producers of oil. For example, in the U.S. the break-even point for oil production is between $48 and $54 a barrel. Many producers in other parts of the world have a higher break-even point. Oil production has been structured on prices in the range of $85 to $110 a barrel. …
The US oil industry is reeling, with the slashing of production resulting in massive lay-offs. Experts say that any price below $40 a barrel is devastating to US oil producers. But the oil crisis will also send new shock waves through the rest of the economy. …
Bankruptcies in the oil industry will spread to financial markets, which issued junk bonds on the expectation of huge payoffs from the oil industry. The oil industry in the US directly and indirectly employs close to 10 million people. This will be a further shock and drag on the financial system and the whole economy which is already collapsing into a depression. …
Monetary policy, i.e. shoveling money into the banks and financial system, will not overcome a crisis rooted in deflation and lack of demand. It will only just prop up the banks. Only creating real demand will work. Even policies like Roosevelt’s New Deal policies in the mid-1930s only gave a temporary boost to the economy, which collapsed again in 1937. It was only the ramping up of military production in preparation for the US’s entry into World War II that ended the Great Depression.
We’re not going backwards… Not with the current price of oil at about $40/barrel, which takes most ventures out of business. And the Fed’s response to save oil and gas will also not help us.
By propping up an industry that is intensifying climate change, which poses serious risks to financial institutions and markets, the Fed is refusing to align its emergency lending actions with its statutory mandate to promote the stability of the financial system.2 Moreover, the programs’ downside risk to public funds and financial stability is not mitigated in any way by strong benefits to workers, as these programs have either weak or nonexistent payroll maintenance requirements.
The LTEs of support were already coming and I especially liked the one from Ken Pearson in the Strib.
ENBRIDGE LINE 3 Northerners’ attitudes are changing
Gov. Tim Walz is right that a project with major environmental impacts like Enbridge Line 3 requires a “social permit” as well as a building permit (“Walz’s Enbridge appeal irritates unions,” Aug. 20). His decision to allow the Commerce Department’s appeal on Line 3 also honors two new developments. First, it takes a step toward restoring balance to a Public Utilities Commission process that the legislative auditor’s office recently found was unfairly tilted to Enbridge’s advantage. Second, it acknowledges the winds of change blowing through northern Minnesota.
Just this month, clean-energy advocate Jen McEwen defeated pro-pipeline incumbent Erik Simonson in Duluth’s state Senate DFL primary. McEwen earned 73% of the vote even though Simonson was endorsed by organized labor and Walz. That result would have been unthinkable five years ago, but projects like Line 3 aren’t nearly as popular as they used to be. It’s no secret that many people north of the metro have become increasingly resentful of foreign corporations telling them environmentally destructive projects in their communities are a “good idea,” and then seeing those projects relentlessly promoted by a small group intent on breaking ground for short-term profit, no matter what the long-term cost. The DOC appeal is a nod to those changing sentiments as well.
So, why this Blog title today? Well, you can thank Hank Green! His hope comes from the light shining on the “dangers of all out individualism”, though I don’t know that I’m so hopeful as Hank. I will agree that, living the way we are… is long-term affecting our ability to “live in the world”. Again, the costs of doing nothing are clear. And, yes, we’ve seen that “people do make sacrifices when we see what’s really on the line”. I just don’t know that people are really “seeing”… until the flood waters are on their own toes… which is way too late to take action.
If there is one true thing about humans, it’s that we’re hyper-adaptable, problem-solving machines. I think, long term, we’ve got this. But there’s going to be a lot of bad along the way, and it hurts a lot to see the bad getting worse in real time.
Sometimes sacrifices are forced, and sometimes they are given. Let’s try to make a world where the former alleviates the latter.
Hank’s take on Climate Change – the costs and the solution?
It’s been 686 days since the IPCC report came out giving us about a decade… and still… Greta waits.