Drill pressure is such that fluid expands outside the channel – seen when bursting through into bottom of stream, wetland, or land.
I realized the other night, that they may never listen to us.
When we cannot even listen to each other, how can we hope that the aligned powers that be, will ever have an ear to hear our pleas?
Perhaps they will learn to hear us? When they realize the pain they have caused… in their own heated rush… for self-fulfillment… of a greed that is not truly satisfied… by force?
Perhaps they will realize it is through coherent, collective, collaborative cooperation – where all have enough and all are fulfilled, all are heard and heeded – that we release the old ways and find a new way forward? A way that is truly and beautifully compassionate, loving, and coherent.
I’m sorry, Nimaamaaaki… for not listening to You when you called to me… asking.
How many more times can You take this failure from us? How many more times will You forgive us for not listening? For not doing what You ask of us – to love and protect you… …as You love and protect us?
Giving up Everything
Giving up everything my hungry ghost of hopefulness
Giving up everything not haunted by wanting this
Giving up everything the fortune I was saving
Giving up everything I mercy-killed my craving
Giving up everything I’ve opened up my eyes for this
Giving up everything see the whole magnificent emptiness
Gave what I want for how it is for the stone inside and the bitterness for the sweetness at the core of it
Giving up everything The master plan, the scheming
Giving up everything my cursed search for meaning
Giving up everything the compass and the map I was reading.
The hinterlands I’m leaving I’m finally leaving behind
Giving up everything the big to-do, the hullabaloo The tug-of-war for some twisted truth For the everlasting ache of it No longer slave, not chained to it no gate, no guard, no keeper no guru, master, teacher
See the slow-receding faces dissolve to black, no traces
Today’s blog is my layman’s summary of my reading of the recent decision by Judge Boasberg denying the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes’ joint request for injunction to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline. It’s a complicated and interesting read and I’ve done my best to summarize what his Order says.
And it’s not exactly bad news!! Just, sadly, more evidence of how our Courts are not geared to make decisions that common sense would dictate. Boasberg seems to give damning testimony to the irresponsible actions of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which I found to salve the wounds of his lawful refusal for relief to the Tribes.
I start with his Opinion, which I recommend reading in full. This guy writes with a concise beauty that I enjoyed reading. [Note that the page numbers all reference the 5-21-21 Order, unless otherwise noted.]
MEMORANDUM OPINION Just like the Dakota Access Pipeline, which meanders over hill and dale before carrying its crude oil underneath Lake Oahe — a large reservoir on the Missouri River between North and South Dakota — the current litigation has wound its way through myriad twists and turns. Last year, in a hard-earned victory for the American Indian Tribe Plaintiffs whose reservations lie nearby, this Court found that Defendant U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE] had violated federal law by failing to produce an Environmental Impact Statement before granting Defendant-Intervenor Dakota Access, LLP an easement to run the pipeline under Lake Oahe. The Court subsequently vacated that easement and ordered the pipeline emptied of oil until the Corps could complete the federally mandated EIS.
Wasting no time, both Dakota Access and the Government promptly appealed to the D.C. Circuit. In a partial win for the Tribes, the Court of Appeals affirmed the two central elements of this Court’s rulings — specifically, that the Corps should have prepared an EIS and that the easement was properly vacated in the interim. The Circuit thus confirmed that the pipeline was, in legal speak, an unlawful encroachment on federal land.
It was there, however, that the Tribes ran out of luck. Prior to the cessation of any oil flow, the Circuit stayed and eventually reversed the aspect of this Court’s order shutting down the pipeline, reasoning that it had not made the necessary findings for what was essentially injunctive relief. In other words, although vacatur of the easement rendered the pipeline an encroachment on federal property, vacatur could not itself bring about the stoppage of oil. For that to occur, the Court of Appeals clarified, this Court needed to conduct an additional, distinct inquiry, a component of which requires the Tribes to demonstrate that — among other things — they will likely suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an order closing the pipeline.
As a result, for all of the headlines and controversy that this litigation has spawned, its tangible consequences for the pipeline itself have been few. Even though this Court vacated the easement for DAPL to cross beneath Lake Oahe, and even though the D.C. Circuit affirmed such vacatur, the pipeline has maintained operations as if none of these developments had occurred. Those seeking an explanation for the persistence of this surprising state of affairs over the past ten-odd months need look no further than the Defendant in this case: the Corps.
Ever since this Court’s vacatur order in July 2020, and across two presidential administrations, the Corps has conspicuously declined to adopt a conclusive position regarding the pipeline’s continued operation, despite repeated prodding from this Court and the Court of Appeals to do so. On the one hand, the agency has refrained from exercising its enforcement powers to halt Dakota Access’s use of the pipeline, notwithstanding its status as an unlawful encroachment. At the same time, however, neither has the Corps affirmatively authorized the pipeline’s occupation of the area underneath Lake Oahe per the process contemplated in its internal procedures. Its chosen course has instead been — and continues to be — one of inaction. Such indecision, it is important to note, does not stem from a lack of time. Nor from a lack of attention. Whatever the reason, the practical consequences of the Corps’ stasis on this question of heightened political controversy are manifest: the continued flow of oil through a pipeline that lacks the necessary federal authorization to cross a key waterway of agricultural, industrial, and religious importance to several Indian Tribes.
Those Tribes thus find themselves forced to return to this Court to seek what they have so far been unable to obtain from the Government: an order halting pipeline operations until the Corps completes its new EIS. Before the Court may grant them such relief, however, binding caselaw requires that the Tribes make an evidentiary showing far beyond anything the Corps needs to itself shut down DAPL. As previously mentioned, they must demonstrate a likelihood of irreparable injury from the action they seek to enjoin — to wit, the pipeline’s operation. For the reasons articulated in this Opinion, Plaintiffs have not cleared that daunting hurdle.
The Court acknowledges the Tribes’ plight, as well as their understandable frustration with a political process in which they all too often seem to come up just short. If they are to win their desired relief, however, it must come from that process, as judges may travel only as far as the law takes them and no further. Here, the law is clear, and it instructs that the Court deny Plaintiffs’ request for an injunction.
The decision by the USACE, that an EIS was not necessary for this project, all the Courts agree was a violation of NEPA. The Courts also agree that the Dakota Access pipeline is currently operating upon an illegal easement. So what went wrong? The historical review of the case is laid out clearly.
Judge Boasberg ordered the pipeline to be vacated within 30 days while the issue was remanded:
“Although it acknowledged that “at least some immediate harm to the North Dakota oil industry should be expected from a DAPL shutdown,” the Court determined that the “seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates” collectively outweighed such negative economic effects.”
Acknowledging that the pipeline now constituted an encroachment, the agency (USACE) explained that its “general policy is to require removal of encroachments and restoration of the premises.” … That outcome was not inevitable, though, as another option available to the Corps — called an “outgrant” — would authorize Dakota Access to use the government-controlled property as it did prior to vacatur, thus effectively issuing it another easement. As the agency admitted, however, that process was subject to the strictures of NEPA, the very statute under which this Court had ordered the preparation of an EIS before any such easement could be granted.
The Corps additionally maintained — without citing any authority — that it was under no obligation “to take any particular action to cure an encroachment within a specified time period” or even “to ultimately cure the encroachment at all.” … It estimated that it would make an “initial decision” as to a potential enforcement action against the pipeline by early October 2020, though it emphasized that it retained the “enforcement discretion to adapt its enforcement recommendations based on new information” at any time.”
The judge goes on to discuss the absurdity of the USACE response to these concerns. His utter frustration and disbelief with this USACE situation seems to rage from the page. He cries out against the audacity of the USACE in their dereliction of duty. He notes, “October, meanwhile, came and went without any word from the Corps regarding its promised “initial decision” as to a potential enforcement action.” (Page 8)
On January 26, 2021, the DC Circuit Court “affirmed this Court’s top-line conclusions that: 1) the Corps’ decision not to prepare an EIS violated NEPA, and 2) the easement should be vacated pending such statement’s completion.” (Page 9)
The DC Circuit held that the Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act (EPA) by issuing an easement allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to transport crude oil through federally owned land at the Lake Oahe crossing site without preparing an environmental impact statement despite substantial criticisms from the Tribes.
The court rejected the Corps’ and Dakota Access’ contention that the district court applied the wrong standard by relying on National Parks Conservation Association v. Semonite, 916 F.3d at 1083, which emphasized the important role played by entities other than the federal government. The court explained that the Tribes’ unique role and their government-to-government relationship with the United States demand that their criticisms be treated with appropriate solicitude. The court concluded that several serious scientific disputes in this case means that the effects of the Corps’ easement decision are likely to be “highly controversial.” The court also noted that, although the risk of a pipeline leak may be low, that risk is sufficient that a person of ordinary prudence would take it into account in reaching a decision to approve the pipeline’s placement, and its potential consequences are therefore properly considered. The court affirmed the district court’s order vacating the easement while the Corps prepares an environmental impact statement. However, the court reversed the district court’s order to the extent it directed that the pipeline be shut down and emptied of oil.
Wow. I was with them until that last line… which I cannot seem to make sense. Their rationalization?
“With or without oil flowing,”accordingly, “the pipeline will remain an encroachment, leaving the precise consequences of vacatur uncertain.” (Page 9)
And, rather than making the simple and agreeable decision to shut down the flow of oil – you know, the stuff that risks a spill… as an empty pipeline does not risk a spill – the DC Circuit Court said, “(Judge Boasberg’s) Court “could not order the pipeline to be shut down without . . . required making the findings necessary for injunctive relief” under the traditional four-factor test.” (Page 9)
While the DC Circuit Court tossed this back to the USACE, they would soon submit a 60-day request for continuance, with the change, in January 2021, to a new administration…
When the long-awaited hearing finally arrived on April 9, 2021, however, the Corps — despite the instruction from both the Court of Appeals and this Court, as well as its own continuance request — had surprisingly little to say about the pipeline’s encroachment status. Indeed, far from issuing the contemplated “prompt” determination as to how it would “enforce its property rights,”… the Corps’ decision appeared to be that it would make no decision at all. According to Government counsel, “[T]he Corps is in a [sic] essentially continuous process of evaluating the status of the encroachment and what steps are best to take.” … While the agency would “continue monitor[ing]” the pipeline and could “take an enforcement action at any time,” it had “no . . . enforcement action to announce” at present nor any “timeline” for such potential action moving forward. … At one point, the Corps seemed to acknowledge the possibility that it might not even decide how to enforce its property rights prior to completion of the judicially mandated EIS (currently estimated for March 2022).”
Well, imagine that. The Army Corps can just lazily do nothing and it doesn’t seem a damn thing we can do?
Judge Boasberg notes that while he “ordered the Corps to clarify its position on whether an injunction should issue. … The agency’s response was less than decisive.” He closes the background section with what I felt was a telling statement: “With this long procedural history in tow, the Court is finally prepared to rule on the Tribes’ request for an injunction.” (Page 11)
Boasberg goes on to explain some of the legal details on a threshold argument and on what is required to prove an irreparable harm. In order to pass that test, a plaintiff must convince the Court:
that it has suffered an irreparable injury;
that remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury;
that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted;
that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.
Boasberg further clarifies:
The Supreme Court “has repeatedly held that the basis for injunctive relief in the federal courts has always been irreparable injury and the inadequacy of legal remedies.” (Page 13)
“Because [plaintiff] has made no showing of irreparable injury here, that alone is sufficient for us to conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by rejecting [plaintiff’s] request.” (Id.)
“[T]he injury must be both certain and great; it must be actual and not theoretical.” (Id.)
A mere “possibility” of future harm is insufficient. (Page 14)
…a court, rather, requires affirmative “proof” of likelihood and imminence. (Id.)
Additionally, “the movant must show that the alleged harm will directly result from the action which [it] seeks to enjoin.” (Id.)
Three “kinds of injuries, each of which they claim independently qualifies as imminent irreparable harm and entitles them to permanent injunctive relief” were submitted by the Tribes. The Judge deals with the first at length and the others with greater “dispatch”. (Page 15)
Threat of Damaging Oil Spill
Plaintiffs’ principal claim of irreparable injury derives from the threat of an oil spill underneath Lake Oahe. … That reservoir, as previously mentioned, provides the Tribes with water for drinking, industry, and sacred practices. In order for them to realize any harm from a pipeline leak, however, a series of contingent events must occur: 1) a spill under Lake Oahe; 2) of sufficiently large size; 3) the oil from which rises 92 feet from the pipeline to the bottom of the lake; and 4) which cannot be sufficiently mitigated or contained either before or upon entering the lake. See DA Opp. at 11. Simply itemizing that causal chain suggests the fundamental problem with Plaintiffs’ irreparable-harm argument: they have not established, as they must, that any of the chain’s individual components — let alone the feared end result — is “likely,” as opposed to merely “possibl[e].” …Without such showing, of course, they cannot demonstrate the probability of a damaging DAPL spill at Lake Oahe sufficient to warrant injunctive relief.”
Boasberg goes on to review that previous court findings concur that the risk of a spill at this site is low and that, due to the age of the pipeline, the “Plaintiffs’ own experts” agree that the chances for spill were higher at start-up. He also notes that the suggestion of concern at the DAPL proposed expansion to double its throughput is not an imminent concern. (Page 17) Boasberg mentions a prior ruling on a case of similar circumstance: “Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, however, found such assertions insufficient to establish irreparable harm because the plaintiffs ‘have not shown that a damaging oil spill is likely to occur.'” (Page 19) He concludes that, while the filing did “win the Tribes a remand for preparation of an EIS under NEPA on the ground that such issues made the easement approval “highly controversial,” … it does little to establish a likelihood that the Tribes will suffer imminent, irremediable harm at Lake Oahe from the pipeline’s continued operation.” (Page 20) As well, he notes the “Court of Appeals has since made clear that this Court may only order an oil stoppage upon finding that (among other things) the Tribes will likely experience irreparable harm absent such relief. The prior vacatur holding has little relevance to that question.” (Page 21) He notes also:
Although the potential injury may be significant, the Tribe must show that it is probable to occur in the absence of the preliminary injunction it now seeks. . . . This is the burden the law imposes for this form of relief. The Court must faithfully and fairly apply that standard in all cases, regardless of how high the stakes or how worthy the cause.”
Over the next few pages of the Order, Boasberg goes on to make clear that the Court is not able on the submitted evidence to determine or calculate the likelihood of an imminent or irreparable spill and that “the law requires the Tribes to make a “clear showing” that such harm is at least “likely” in the absence of an injunction. … All they have shown, rather, is a mere “possibility” of injury — and a fairly minimal one at that. This cannot get them over the hump. No matter the stakes and no matter the cause, courts may not grant the “extraordinary remedy” of an injunction “based only on a possibility of irreparable harm.” (Page 24)
Other Claimed Harms
Apart from the risk of a damaging oil spill, the Tribes assert two other harms that require somewhat less discussion. They maintain that they are irreparably injured by “the ongoing trauma of the government’s refusal to comply with the law,” as well as the “undermining [of] the Tribes’ sovereign governmental role to protect their members and respond to potential disasters.”
While Boasberg finds “Neither tack finds the wind,” it seems to me there could be ample argument for these harms. His case is based on the fact that “The problem with both is simple: they depend on the same remote threat of a pipeline spill that the Court has just found insufficient to constitute irreparable injury.” (Page 24)
While the Tribes arguments focused on arguments based on emotional distress that results from a fear of a spill – which, having a low probability of occurring, cannot justify a reasonable concern in this case. Even when the Tribe “claim that “allowing the pipeline to continue operating despite a serious NEPA violation is part of a pattern” of “‘historic trauma’” experienced by “‘every Tribal member,’” one deriving from the government’s “continued refusal to respect the rights of the Tribes throughout the nation’s history” and its “prioritizing non-Indians” at the expense of Tribal members,” Boasburg argues that this “does not qualify as irreparable harm within the context of this case. … [as it] cannot be meaningfully disentangled from the remote threat of an oil spill at Lake Oahe.” (Page 26-27)
The Court does not deny that shameful past. On the contrary, it fully acknowledges and appreciates the “tragic history of the Great Sioux Nation’s repeated dispossessions at the hands of a hungry and expanding early America,” along with the persistent “threat that new injury will compound old.”
Plaintiffs’ second claimed harm founders for similar reasons as the first. According to the Tribes, “[T]he Corps’ NEPA violations have undermined [their] sovereign governmental role to protect their citizens, respond to disasters, and mitigate harm.” … It soon becomes clear, however, that these governance-based harms are once again derivative of the same speculative spill-risk harms handled above.
One final aspect I find a bit confounding. On page 28, Boasberg notes: “Finally, DAPL itself does not implicate any “loss of sovereignty over Tribal land,” … as the Lake Oahe segment traverses only federal property.” Here I’d argue that ALL LANDS are Tribal lands, though I’m sure there is some legalese that refutes this as well, making my argument illegitimate. [With laws written by the colonizers, those same folks who brought to you deceptive and relentless treaty negotiations, it seems the Tribes are given no option save to declare war on a foreign nation?]
Boasberg redeems himself to me – and places the blame for this situation fully in the hands of the USACE – in this summary of his conclusion that he must deny the relief sought:
It does not reach that conclusion lightly. Fully aware of the unshakable indignities visited upon the Tribes across generations, the Court, as it has throughout this litigation, scrutinizes the record with care. It likewise acknowledges the quandary in which Plaintiffs find themselves and the undeniable frustration that comes with it — namely, having achieved (and successfully defended on appeal) the vacatur of a key pipeline easement, they must now turn around and make an even steeper showing to obtain the injunctive relief necessary to stop the flow of oil.
The Court closes this analysis where it began: with the Corps. Plaintiffs, no doubt, will wish that the Court’s Opinion today had come out differently. Simply by ruling, however, the Court has at least given them something the Corps has not: a decision. Notwithstanding repeated instruction from this Court and the D.C. Circuit to “decide promptly” and “in the first instance” how it “will enforce its property rights” vis-à-vis the pipeline’s encroaching on federal land at Lake Oahe, the Corps has not yet issued any determination on the matter at all — more than ten months since the invalidation of the underlying easement. … Much like the Circuit, this Court presently “ha[s] no occasion to consider” whether, by way of such inaction, the Corps has effectively granted “a de facto outgrant without engaging in the NEPA analysis that the Corps concedes such an action requires.” Id. For now, it suffices to note that by ducking the controversy surrounding the Oahe crossing, the Corps actively tolerates DAPL’s continued operation underneath a key federal waterway that it lacks the necessary authorization to traverse. That, of course, is a political decision outside this Court’s area of inquiry. Whether the Corps formally acknowledges such decision or not, this is the outcome it now owns.”
So we can all cross our fingers and hope for the best!
I should include also, the Judge’s mention of the Tribes’ request for clarification on the 408 Permit “(which the Tribes now maintain “indisputably relied on the invalidated environmental assessment” and thus cannot stand.”) (Page 30) In this instance, the Tribes failed “to explain why vacatur of the Section 408 permit would yield that result, as a “Section 408 permit, rather — much like the MLA easement — simply denotes the Corps’ approval of Dakota Access’s plans to site the pipeline on federal property,” and potential vacatur of said permit also would not bring a shutdown of operations. (Page 30-31)
It’s clear to me that the Judge seems to believe the US Army Corps of Engineers has violated NEPA, however, as the DC District Court ordered against the shut down of the line and that his court had no capacity to do so without proof of imminent and irreparable harms, which he could not do with the information provided, his hands are tied.
I truly believe it broke his heart to write this Order.
There is still a possible option. President Biden could ask the USACE to uphold their Treaty responsibilities and do what is right, honor the voices of the Native Peoples asking for relief. Give them relief, if only until the Corps can complete the EIS. It’s the right thing to do.
In Early February, 33 Democrats wrote to Biden, urging him to close down the pipeline, stopping it from transporting crude oil between North Dakota and Illinois.
“By shutting down this illegal pipeline, you can continue to show your administration values the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities more than the profits of outdated fossil fuel industries,” they wrote….
In a statement, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) focused on Biden’s infrastructure proposal, claiming that it has a “major oversight: it neither acknowledges nor strengthens tribal sovereignty.”
“Congress and the Biden administration must know that recovery cannot take place until Tribal nations are the ones making the decisions about projects that impact their peoples and their lands,” IEN stated.
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.]
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.
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.
So in case it hasn’t become clear to you yet, the end will not be Logan’s Run or Mad Max or even Threads (my personal prediction). It’s more like the book of the same name for the year Threads came out… 1984.
The doublespeak is insane. The arrogance with which they are acting is more blatant each year. They seemed to really kick it in to high gear with the Kavanagh debacle and I’ll be dammed if that shit didn’t stick!
They’ve escalated the antics, right through an impeachment “trial” with no witnesses or evidence. We’re living in a recession, eight months in to a global pandemic, and Congress left for recess! [Well, of course, they’re people of means… why wouldn’t they head out for vacation, while millions of Americans suffer? It seems the way of the wealthy – their Cancer of Greed has gotten to Stage 4.]
People are being evicted from their homes, finding themselves without enough money to buy food and medicine, largely due to severe unemployment, levels we haven’t seen since when? 1958? [Many of us experienced this in 2008… and many since have struggled for employment, or worked multiple shitty paying jobs to make ends meet in the “new economy” of the last decade. I will say the 2008 Recession was Dan and my clear sign to GTFO.] And yet the Stock Market is soaring! [You know, as the Federal Reserve pumps 15 Trillion of our tax dollars in, like so many little blue pills, to prop it up…
And NOW! They’re taking out the fucking mailboxes for Christ’s sake!!
So, yes, it’s the hunger games. For realz now.
Got a text this morning from a friend: Is Mother Earth trying to give us another wake up call??? I’ve had some really dark meditations and it’s focused on the earth. Maybe it’s as simple as my mind working through all the data points.
Have you or any of your more spiritual friends sensed that something really bad is going to happen?
I don’t watch the news, don’t have any subscriptions online but the number of natural disasters I’m aware of is increasing exponentially.
You and I talked a few years ago and I ignorantly said, “nothing catastrophic has happened”. You rattled off 3-4 significant natural disasters around the world.
(Stopped) reading because I need to put this out there. In the last 2 weeks I can think of 8-10 non precedented weather events. … • Mumbai, India 50% of the slum population has COVID and they are experiencing monsoon rains with more rainfall than ever recorded. • Ice melts in Serbia and Canada. • Heat wave in CA. • Severe thunderstorm, heavy winds, tornadoes from the Midwest to NE. 1. Cedar Rapids, IW had hurricane level 2 force winds, 1M trees down, 300K people without power. 2. IN power outages all over, trees down and damage to structures. 3. Same storm hit the NE… CT lost power for 9 days. • Earthquake in NC or GA • Excessive rainfall in MN
Yep. And I sat on the porch last night thinking: • It’s August and I’m on the porch excited about drinking a WARM beverage… • We got 8″ of rain in the last week… • And what’s with all the rocket launches? Is there already a secret war on Mars? Who has a relative or friend in Space Force? Anyone?
I replied to my my friend: Yeah. Dan had been saying ‘we’ve gone too far’ for a while now. I think because HE senses it based on data. I just thought he was a pessimist, which he can be, but I’m wondering more each day. Yeah. We had 8″ of rain in 6 days this past week. Sunday-Monday 4″+ in 48 hours, then Friday we got 4″+ in 24 hours…
IT is happening. (has been… for decades) again.. water on the toes… some of us have been feeling it for years now but the powers that be aren’t listening. Watch The Power – #1 movie on Netflix this week. Pretty accurate depiction of a metaphor of current situation. Mankind keeps pushing limits until there’s no breathing room. Literally. 🤨
I think it’s gonna be mass migration and starvation this year… even in the US.
Get ready, my friends. It’s seems a train is coming. A big train. It’s begun picking up passengers… thousands by the day. The climate chaos predicted is happening… at an exponentially increasing pace it seems – and the starvation and migration have been happening for years in some places on the globe. Places the humans in power don’t look at or talk about… as much as they can avoid it.
The pace seems to be quickening – or at least bumping up in fits and starts – but I am hopeful many will remain to rebuild – more sustainably, I hope – after the starving times. And there will be some who have enough to share with their communities around them to help them survive.
You’re all pretty enlightened, so you know that the Wiindigo system doesn’t work like ours. Instead of understanding and respecting the natural world or the rights of Mother Earth or the Creator’s laws—the highest laws— we live in a society that writes a bunch of laws based on who’s in power, redistributes pollution, arbitrarily changes recommended daily allowances of radiation and contaminants, and pretends that it’s all right to allocate the water in western basins until there’s no water left there. That’s the arrogance of a system that has no check with reality. And that’s what’s going on. There is no understanding for a cyclical system. We all live in a super-linear world instead of a cyclical world, and perhaps one of the best examples of that, in addition to the pipeline battles, is the fact that we live in a society with something like 13 trillion pounds of waste produced annually in the U.S. That doesn’t include waste water, and I ask myself, what is waste water? There’s no new water being made. In 2010 Americans wasted some 133 billion pounds of food. With a 430 billion pound food supply, that’s more than one-third of the whole being wasted. Economically, it’s $161.6 billion in food wastage. … In an Anishinaabe or other indigenous economy, one’s stature is associated with one’s generosity. That is why we have massive giveaways; that is why we have massive potlatches, which are ceremonial feasts at which possessions are given away or destroyed to display wealth and enhance prestige, because your stature in your community is ensured by how much you give away. In today’s society, people’s stature is ensured by how much they accumulate, and wealth is aggrandized. We don’t ask where they got it, how they got it, and how much they need. We act as if it doesn’t matter, and what I’m saying is that perhaps the time has come to turn that around because it’s not going to work out. Let me tell you what I think about this. And I won’t go into the consequences because I think you already know about the destruction of so many species of life. For example, fifty million buffalo, the single largest migratory herd in the world, destroyed. General Philip Sheridan, commanding armies of the west, urged destruction of the buffalo herds, foreseeing that when they disappeared, the Indians would disappear along with them; by 1885 the buffalo were virtually extinct, and the Indians were starving.
Winona goes on and I recommend reading her entire piece. [Makes one pretty pissed to realize local lumber company Potlatch is such a salt in the wound brand name…] I told my friend: I think all this – and it’s in the “Heartbeat of Wounded Knee” and recent stories in movies – talks about this human (male/dominator/white supremacy/colonial culture) tendency to destroy being the main way we eliminate enemies.. by destroying their food sources, their villages and homes, or taking their lives… this becomes the devastation for those that follow… nothing remains when destruction – or even thoughtless overharvest – depletes completely. We’re apparently far too short sighted a species to make much more than a couple thousand years before we annihilate ourselves… and this time we’re taking a bunch of species with us.
But. Keep hope! (And plan…) it may turn out some of us make it. And enough of us may die… or be sacrificed? I imagine Billionaire Bingo… where each of the 26 richest billionaires get to face trial for their gluttony and convince us that they are worth NOT SACRIFICING because they are going to commit to full time problem resolution with their cash going to good causes. (Of course, this vision requires a planet capable of human survival, so it may be a pipe dream at this point. But hey, a girl can dream!)
Let’s hope those billionaires find their hearts soon. 26 people who could remedy it all… if only they’d share. Perhaps we can put them all on a rocket to Mars to discuss it?
There might yet be time for a peace train after all.
Earlier this month, I attended the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board’s Environmental Congress. I signed up to attend not realizing there would be livestreaming of the event but I am so glad I attended in person as I was able to make so much of the trip.
I found lodging with a friend in the area and enjoyed a wonderful room full of delight. [Fran, you’d have loved the whole place!] I ended up staying two nights and really enjoying not only getting to know this lovely family but also their terrific town. I got the $10 tour of Owatonna and will blog it soon!
OK, back to the Congress. We had a full day ahead of us! Fermata Sol, an up and coming U of M Mankato a cappella group, opened the day with a nice selection of melodies. After this number, I noted they might yet make me like Taylor Swift!! (A high compliment per Jacob, their beatboxer. As I enjoyed the music, Jeffrey Broberg joined me and told me a bit about MN Well Owners Organization, who are seeking board statewide members. The Plenary speakers were terrific. As Grace Goldtooth ended up falling ill, we had plenty of time to hear Kate A Brauman, PhD (Lead Scientist, Global Water Initiative, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota) explain how Minnesota is getting hotter and wetter and no matter how sexy that sounds, it is not a good thing. EVERY Minnesotan will feel the effects of climate change. Sydney Bauer, recent graduate and member of the Emerging Environmental Leaders Program, challenged and encouraged us to try some new things today, to reach out to a young person, and to understand that they are ready to take on the challenges before us. I am still amazed at the patience of our young people…
Then it was time for breakouts (details at the bottom of this link), which covered quite a lot of ground.
Climate Justice, Energy, and Equity (Room 245) *
The Future of Minnesota’s Clean Water in a Changing Climate (Room 253-255)
Food, Fiber, and Fuel: Providing Society’s Needs While Addressing Climate Change (Ostrander Auditorium)
Adapting to Climate Change: Innovative Strategies from around Minnesota (Room 201) *
Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation (Room 202)
Climate Change and Biodiversity: Building Resiliency of Our Lands and Wildlife (Room 204)
How to Talk Climate by Developing Your Personal Climate Story (90 minute session – Rooms 203 & 238)
I selected the Innovative Strategy one and heard from Alison Zelms, Deputy City Manager, City of Mankato who spoke on the water systems and risks to wells along the river requiring multi-million dollar projects to secure the water infrastructure. One thing we often don’t consider is all the infrastructure that we will need to replace, repair, or abandon as climate changes our spaces. Jeff Meek, Sustainability Coordinator, MN Department of Transportation spoke about how current flooding changes require new thinking for resolving culvert and bridge concerns. Hilarie Sorenson, Climate Specialist, 1854 Treaty Authority spoke about the work being done with Mille Lacs on walleye populations. When asked what one thing might need to be abandoned to improve going forward, here were the answers: Alison says to not mow to the edge of retention ponds, Jeff notes that we might need to consider what 1% of infrastructure we might abandon rather than continue to support, and Hilarie noted that sometimes problems are not in need of an immediate human fix and that a wait and watch approach can often allow situations to resolve naturally.
My second workshop I did not realize focused on energy as I was focused on the first and third topics in the list: Climate Justice & Equity. This was a panel presentation with 5 members expressing their experience and ideas regarding equitable energy strategies and why they are important. Presenters offered diverse perspectives on difficulties faced by people of color and the policies, programs, and resources available to mitigate them. Presenters included: Briana Baker, Weatherization Auditor, Minnesota Valley Action Council; Carmen Carruthers, Outreach Director, Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota; Ben Passer, Director of Energy Access and Equity, Fresh Energy; Janiece Watts, Policy Associate for Energy Access and Equity, Fresh Energy; and Ansha Zaman, Policy Coordinator, Center for Earth Energy and Democracy. At the end of the session, the panelists joined audience members to answer questions and share ideas. Overall, it was a really good session to bring understanding to the needs and what Minnesota government and NGOs are doing to meet the needs.
Side note for my fellow environmental geeks: I was uber impressed with Janiece Watts from Fresh Energy in that last breakout. Then, I sat down to lunch with J. Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director for Fresh Energy!! And she raved with me about how great Janiece and Ben both are. [We’d been talking for several minutes before I finally realized who she was… and then we had an awesome discussion about TBIs! 🙂 She is a real gem. I now understand the amazing outpouring of love and prayer and good energy I witnessed earlier this year, from the entire environmental movement, when she took her tumble on the ice and hit her head. SO glad she’s back in action. And I turned her on to Annie Humphrey’s new song on this topic… The Boy Who Lived. Listen to the whole album though – it’s terrific. And buy it. 🙂 ]
Just a little ramble on how magical my life is…
Lunch followed and Governor Walz gave an address (start at 49 minutes in as apparently no one knew how to edit the video which recorded the lunch background noise for almost an hour before getting to the presentation…) before turning us over to a panel of his Commissioners and others involved with the new Subcabinet on Climate Change (they start at 1:12 into the video). Steve Kelly did a nice job of specifically saying that the Department of Commerce is an “advocate for the public interest before the Public Utilities Commission” (PUC) for regulated utilities. [Let’s hope they continue to stand with their statement that there is NO PUBLIC NEED for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3, currently being considered by the PUC.] He also mentioned they are working with the insurance and banking aspects of climate justice. (I got a chance to shake his hand and thank him for this at the end of the event.) The announcement of the Climate Change Subcabinet, announced with the signing of Executive Order 19-37, seemed to be the precursor to the Environmental Congress – excellent planning. While I had some expectation that the Congress would be a watered down, “Hey, look how great Minnesota is doing on climate change! Tech is going to save us! No worries!” thing, instead the presentation was a pretty honest assessment of the dire straits in which we find ourselves. There was some talk of things we hope to do and some that we’ve implemented already, but mostly it was a recognition that we have a long way to go. Even here in progressive Minnesota.
The most participant-driven part of the day was the Open Space time. If you’re not familiar with Open Space, the way it worked at the Congress was that any participant could create a room to discuss any topic they want to deep dive. Once the rooms were assigned, we all went off to our topics and, if we wanted, at any time, we could transfer to a different topic. The requirement was that each room have a note-taker to capture the conversations. These notes will reportedly be compiled and presented by the MEQB at the Environmental Congress website.
Our topics were quite varied: Greenhouse gas emissions accounting (data, methods); How to encourage inter-generational action on climate change; Diversity in MN Resilience Planning; How to make mass transit cool; How do we elect bold champions for a livable planet; Natural climate solutions to reach MN’s emission reduction goals! (2% to 33%!); Having meaningful discussions with people you disagree with; one on carbon fee and dividend (CCL was there), a few others and the one I attended, Implications of Line 3 on climate.
The Line 3 Open Space had about a dozen people and was pretty evenly divided between MN agency reps and citizens. Julie Goehring, MEQB Congressional District 7 Representative; Mary Otto, DOC Tribal Liaison; Helen Waquiu, MPCA Tribal Liaison; Steve Colvin, MN DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division Director; DNR Planner Nora (?); Laura Bishop, MPCA Commissioner; MPCA Educator (missed her name!), Sara Wolff, Minnesota Environmental Partnership Advocacy Director; Matteo, Sierra Club/MN350 Videographer; Robert Red Thunder, Red Lake Tribal Member; Jackie (didn’t catch her info); Lindsay Anderson, Green Corps Member; and me!
Sara Wolff began the discussion with a presentation of some data she had on Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHGs) for MN. In 2005, we were at about 130 MMT CO2/year and we’ve reduced this to about 110 MMT CO2/year. Out 2007 goal for 2025 was to reduce by 30% – to about 90 MMT CO2/year – and by 2030, we hoped to reduce by 45% below 2010 levels to about 65 MMT CO2/year. Our old 2050 goal was to reduce to 80% of 2005 levels. But Walz’ new Climate Change Subcabinet calls for 100% reduction by 2050, at least for our electrical production. It will be interesting to see how the group proceeds. [I’ve applied for a seat at the table. Put out the good energy for it!!]
Sara noted that, while we started out strong, Minnesota is no longer on track to meet goals for GHG reductions. We need to further reduce by about 7 MMT CO2/year to hit our old 2025 goal or 13 MMT to meet our new 2025 goal of 30% reduction. That means a 40 MMT reduction by 2030 to meet the goal. She then noted that the GHG emissions for Line 3 will be 200 MMT CO2/year. I mentioned McKibben’s 2012 Do the Math article – where we learned that much of the remaining fossil fuels must remain in the ground.
I mentioned also that the only spill since 1989 on current Line 3 happened during a repair. When we look at the new lines for Keystone and DAPL, we’re seeing spill after spill negating the “improvement” that new pipelines bring. Instead of the jobs for putting in a NEW Line 3, we can create ongoing employment via maintaining our currently safely operating Line 3. Safer AND more jobs.
Lindsey asked about what our current state is and Steve Colvin pointed to Laura Bishop who noted that the permits are on hold at the MPCA. The updated EIS is needed for those permits to be reconsidered. I gave a summary of the court cases where the Court of Appeals required an updated EIS. Steve Colvin noted that Enbridge has to do the analysis but the Department of Commerce does the EIS and presents it to the PUC. He also denoted the open DNR approvals pending: water appropriation permits for different purposes, utility license to cross public lands, utility license to cross public waters, listed species taking permit, a calcareous fen management program, and a public waters work permit (an oddity for public water crossing permits). I summarized that there is currently NO Certificate of Need or Route Permit and, until the EIS is issued and re-approved as adequate, no EIS.
Someone asked about green jobs and a brief discussion ensued about the need. Someone asked about pre-construction work status and I mentioned the difficulty with understanding WHAT you are seeing in the landscape – is it Enbridge pre-construction or high line construction? Is it Enbridge pre-construction or Charlie clearing his timber to pay for his kid’s college?
Current state of the EIS and when and how it will be deemed adequate were unclear. The EIS due date of the 9th (or 10th?) noted by the agency reps. Whether it was supplemental was denied – it is an “update”. I noted that this is all potentially new territory as we have never done an EIS for a pipeline prior to this in Minnesota. Sara noted that the rationale from the PUC for approving Line 3 was to protect the people from disaster; building the pipeline would be a means to that end. [I’d argue now, after all the spills on new pipelines, that the current Line 3 is safer…] However, that decision was made in summer 2018 and, in October 2018, the IPCC released a report that noted an increased urgency for addressing climate, reducing to 45% of 2010 emissions by 2030. In November 2018, the US report on how climate is affecting us was a second major notice on the urgent need for considering how we make decisions in light of the climate crisis. None of this information was available when the PUC made the decision to approve Line 3.
Lindsey noted that we may need to include other states or governments to work on emissions reductions in a more global way. The health of the citizens where the oil will be burned might help involve more people in understanding the risks. She lost enthusiasm when it was mentioned that much of this oil will be exported to offshore users… noting, “China’s not a democracy.” [I’d argue that we’re doing nothing and we supposedly have a democracy…] Colvin noted that this brings us to considering the cumulative effects of these GHG emissions. Matteo noted the argument from Canada could be that we’re impeding their national interests to use their natural resources.
This led to a discussion on lobbying and a note that Enbridge accounted for more than twice the amount of the second largest lobbying source for Minnesota. I asked Steve Colvin about his comment that, “Minnesota is a pass through state” for Line 3. I asked on what basis the PUC made the decision when so many groups opposed, from the DOC to the Tribes to other intervening parties. While Steve didn’t want to speak to the actions of other agencies, he noted the rationale must be noted.* Sara also noted that the laws in the US were developed long ago to give allowances to the fossil fuel industry, for example, allowance to use eminent domain to take land needed for pipelines, to create the growth of the country. We’ve given deference to the free flow of fossil fuels and now we are swimming upstream with a change in our circumstances. The money supporting the fossil fuel industry is also a factor for consideration.
Sara also noted that the ads being placed by Enbridge – full page ads in the Star Tribune run ~$30K – are wrapped into the costs of getting the pipeline built!! This is assessed to the people in the area where the pipeline traverses. Per Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), these people are assessed a rate that includes the costs of these ads. So every time you see an Enbridge ad, you should be seeing it as more money you’ll be paying for these fuels. This explains why they advertise so heavily – it’s on our dime in the end anyway – but what about the risks of them going out of business? Globally we are discussing divestment from and an end to dependence on fossil fuels. Could not getting Line 3 bring bankruptcy leaving Minnesota on the hook for it all? Also noted, regarding ads, Enbridge markets as a “renewable” energy supporter… but they sold off all their wind assets!!
Lindsey noted that when she Googles Line 3, Enbridge pays to be sure their link is the top site listed. This is what money can do. I noted that this same thing happened as Exxon faced court challenges recently in New York.
The discussion turned next to jobs. Julie noted the county commissioners in her part of Minnesota are focused on jobs. This is their focus for Line 3. “Safer and brings more jobs” is the message from them. We hear this all the time in Greater MN. One of the agency people talked about how government jobs are great because of the mobility and possibility. But they’re in the Cities… Jobs are really in need in Greater MN.
I noted that the road to people ratio in Northern MN offers a lot of potential to capitalize on the new green economy coming my way. Julie noted that Paul Douglas recently noted he couldn’t take his electric vehicle for an outstate event because he didn’t have the charging possibility there. Lindsey noted that no car in her price range has the mileage range needed for her to get from where she lives to her parent’s house which makes an EV an impossibility for her. Everyone else in America is dealing with these same issues.
Sara asked us to all consider what the world would look like if it was the way we imagined it to be. A world where no matter what part of the state you lived in, you could have a job that is meaningful for you and provides for your family, and no one has to breath the fumes of pollution and our waters are clean. AOC did it. [Seriously, watch this – it gives hope.]
I talked about the question from the earlier session on what we need to let go of moving forward. I noted that the decision to stop mowing to the edge of the retention ponds also brings a solution to the goose problem because they fear predators in the foliage. And these solutions can become the snowball that we see rolling forward, leading to more and more solutions.
What’s the future for Line 3? Stick more people on repairs, eventually rid ourselves of it? Sara noted that the DOC report advised no need for Line 3 and that we could even NOT build a new Line 3 AND close the existing Line 3 and STILL meet all Minnesota’s needs. I noted that a bigger question is whether Enbridge is looking at bankruptcy near term as the Fossil Fuel industry dies. Will we have to clean up their mess of old and dead pipelines? If we want to talk JOBS, there are 3-5X more jobs in pipeline removal than pipeline construction. MN Taxpayers will be paying for the cleanup if we don’t get our ducks in a row to hold them accountable. Why not let Enbridge pay for their own removal? Starting NOW.
Steve Colvin noted that he’s not sure what financial assurance requirements are embedded in the regulations. For metallic mining, there are financial assurance requirements (though the figures are debated!). This protects against common mining bankruptcy.
Have we talked with the province from Canada that is likely also looking at their own GHG emission reduction programs? No one was familiar with their requirements but the idea of working together on these issues is a good one.
I mentioned the David Dybdahl report from Michigan on Enbridge’s financial liability. I noted there are programs for Line 3 but that the details are not public as Enbridge claims they are “trade secret”. One suggestion was to find whose oil they are transporting and stop supporting those businesses. Enbridge is only the mover, not the one selling the product, so we are largely unable to impact Enbridge as a company.
Laura noted timelines and said that MPCA has a responsibility and she is working with her staff on this work. MPCA’s is determining timing with USACE and they need to provide a schedule to the USACE as their default is 60 days. This consultation work is in progress. Nothing final on EIS as of yet. Route permitting was noted as “not done”.
One final question was to ask about carbon taxes which was a bit outside this group’s balliwick. Most agreed that all costs will eventually come back to consumers. I tried to give the CCL spin on this idea that those who spend a lot will pay more and those who spend less will gain with the standard refunds to all citizens. Had a bit of a discussion on where this would fall with MN being a pass-through state.
And finally, the feed lot that was questioned for GHG emissions was brought forward. There was speculation that this could affect the pipeline discussion as well. Laura addressed the MEQB factoring in of climate. This will be factored in on the EAW/ER. There is a larger idea of how we tackle this as climate as well, including what rule changes may be needed. This and health too will factor into the work being done by the MEQB.
This was a really interesting and diverse conversation and I was excited afterward to meet the other Northern MN person in the room and ended up finding that she’s a cousin to a friend of my parents! Small world. This was a perfect lead in to the closing for the Congress which included some beautiful closing comments and blessings. I wish I had caught the names and more information but it was moving quick and I was enthralled by the commentary and words of blessing. Just beautiful. I was just too in the moment taking it all in…
All in all it was a pretty inspiring conference. There were real conversations and challenges. I don’t know if we’ll end up doing enough but we’re talking a good game so far.
I’m glad I attended. I had an opportunity to meet some amazing people, deepen some relationships, and learn a lot about the state agencies and NGOs working for climate justice.
* For those who have made it this far, below are further details on the PUC decision and it’s avoidance of recognizing GHG emissions from Line 3.
In their Certificate of Need order, the PUC note: The lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from the Project are a significant consequence. However, the lifecycle environmental costs include emissions from ultimate consumption of the oil transported over the Project. These costs do not result directly from the Project, but instead result from the continued demand for crude oil to produce refined products used by consumers.
This contradicts the Department of Commerce assertion that both direct and indirect effects must be considered, which itself is supported by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidelines, and which the DOC quotes: As noted in the Council on Environmental Quality’s 2016 Final Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change (Executive Office of the President, Council on Environmental Quality 2016), all greenhouse gas emissions contribute to cumulative climate change impacts.
The DOC laid out the climate impacts of Line 3 to the PUC. The PUC had a chance to take a major stand on climate, and they punted instead. If they wanted to deny the CN based on climate impacts (as well as other environmental and indigenous cultural impacts) they had the regulatory cover to do so as the Council on Environmental Quality (2019 version) itself says: A projection of a proposed action’s direct and reasonably foreseeable indirect GHG emissions may be used as a proxy for assessing potential climate effects. Direct effects are caused by the action and occur at the same time or place. 40 CFR 1508.8(a). Indirect effects are caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable. 40 CFR 1508.8(b). Following the rule of reason, agencies should assess effects when a sufficiently close causal relationship exists between the proposed action and the effect. A ‘‘but for’’ causal relationship is not sufficient. Agencies should attempt to quantify a proposed action’s projected direct and reasonably foreseeable indirect GHG emissions when the amount of those emissions is substantial enough to warrant quantification, and when it is practicable to quantify them using available data and GHG quantification tools.
Where GHG inventory information is available, an agency may also reference local, regional, national, or sector-wide emission estimates to provide context for understanding the relative magnitude of a proposed action’s GHG emissions. This approach, together with a qualitative summary discussion of the effects of GHG emissions based on an appropriate literature review, allows an agency to present the environmental impacts of a proposed action in clear terms and with sufficient information to make a reasoned choice among the alternatives. Such a discussion satisfies NEPA’s requirement that agencies analyze the cumulative effects of a proposed action because the potential effects of GHG emissions are inherently a global cumulative effect. Therefore, a separate cumulative effects analysis is not required.
[Thanks to my buddies for these links – the emphasis is ours.]
The Administrative Law Judge, Ann O’Reilly, noted in her findings on the proposed Line 3 what appear to be clearly reasonable conclusions:
676. The ALJ accepts these calculations as established in fact and adopts the finding of the incremental life-cycle GHG emissions (GHGe) for the Project will be 193 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e), totaling $287 billion in social costs.
677. The adoption of these figures by the ALJ is based upon Applicant’s testimony that: (1) the Project, with a 760 kbpd capacity, will predominantly transport heavy crude; (2) the 390 kbpd of light crude currently transported through the line will be displaced by heavy crude; (3) the 390 kbpd light crude currently transported on the line will transferred to other lines (and, therefore, does not “disappear”); and (4) the new line will add an additional 370 kbpd of (new) predominantly heavy crude on the Mainline System to eliminate apportionment.
678. Consequently, reducing the annual life-cycle GHG emission of non-displacement (273.5 million tons CO2e) by the annual life-cycle GHG emissions from 390 kbpd light crude (80.5 million tons CO2e), equals the “incremental” (i.e., increased) annual life-cycle emissions of the Project (193 million tons CO2e). The calculation is as follows: 273.5 million tons CO2e (the estimated annual emissions from a new project bringing 760 kbpd of “new” heavy crude into the environment) minus 80.5 million tons CO2e (the annual emissions from the Existing Line 3), equals 193 million tons CO2e (the annual increased amount of emissions anticipated by the Project).
679. Sierra Club witness Andrew Twite maintains that approving the Project will make it difficult for Minnesota to meet the GHG emission goals set forth in the U.S. Climate Alliance, which affirms states’ support the objectives of the Paris Accord. The U.S. Climate Alliance is bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing GHG emissions by at least 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, consistent with the Paris Accord. Minnesota is part of this coalition.
Sadly, the PUC is under no obligation to heed ANY of the ALJ’s recommendations.
This past Thursday, I spent quite a lot of time reading about the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s been a topic for a while now. And having more and more interaction with the Indigenous friends in our lives makes this kind of contemplation ever more prevalent.
I think it started with a call to some friends, a couple we know – one Indigenous and one non-Indigenous, about a family matter. After discussing the situation, I ended up asking what their Thanksgiving plans were. There was hesitation. Then one said they were working. And I got this kind of uncomfortable feeling like I’d committed a social faux pas as I hung up the phone. I texted an Anishanaabe Elder I know for an opinion. I know their opinion isn’t the be all end all. I know there are a WIDE variety of opinions and beliefs but I trusted this person to know my heart and give me thoughtful input about the situation. They assured me that they are not usually offended by someone asking of their Thanksgiving Day plans as they get what people mean by asking. Personally, they just answer “honestly and briefly… No political debate necessary”. If it becomes a big deal, they suggested, perhaps these folks just don’t want to be friends. Well, I will definitely talk this through with my friends when I see them again in person and hopefully their input will again give me more food for thought.
I do agree with my Elder friend that this is typically just a day to join with others, have a meal, and be thankful for the harvest. And I think more than ever these days, it’s just a mindless part of our culture – yes, a predominantly white colonizer culture (is mindless a necessary descriptor or inherent in this one?) It’s very complex. For most in the Unites States I would guess it’s just “what we do every year”. We have turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. It’s maybe that one time a year yams get any attention for many.
Then I noticed much more posting this year on FB about the downside of this holiday, the horror of it. And so I began to think about it a bit more. I began reading. And I started considering the thoughtlessness and materialism of it all as I became more informed.
It’s largely a capitalist dream come true for turkey sellers, cranberry growers, grocery stores, airlines, and Big Oil as the biggest travel day of the year. Everyone makes plans to begin the “holiday season” (though I guess some consider Halloween the start of the season now…) with visits and overeating and football. Oh, yeah, the NFL. Oh, and I guess basketball too. Eat and watch TV. This is pretty much the holiday for many. And if you really think about it, it’s kind of a mindless mess. And it’s very typical of what has been United States mainstream culture for most of my life.
Our holiday was not exactly typical: nuclear family sitting down for a meal that took all day to prepare with multiple layers of appetizers, drinks, meal, dessert, coffee, sandwiches later, more dessert, more drinks. But it wasn’t too far from typical. Mom and I prepared some simple food. Dan and I brought a pork roast from a pig friends of ours raised that we cooked overnight in the crock pot (and which turned out pretty amazing if I do say so myself). Mom baked a cherry pie and I made pumpkin custard (though I forgot my own organic pumpkin prepared last fall and frozen so had to get some canned organic pumpkin puree while we were in Duluth just prior to being at Mom’s). She found a GF corn soufflé recipe and made it and we boiled some potatoes for mashing. We took the juice from the roast and made a quick corn starch gravy and I baked some new GF rolls I’ve been trying to perfect. This was the third attempt and they were once again good… but AGAIN the yeast failed me – they were not light and fluffy. They were, once again, more biscuits than rolls. But they were tasty. All in all, we put in a couple hours on preparation but we were not harried, we were relaxed. It was not super complex, it was a pretty simple meal. And we invited over a friend who lives alone to join us. We called the boy in Colorado and chatted with him and his partner. We spent much more time and attention on their cat, Jax, than psychologists would likely say is healthy. After dinner, we did a brief round of saying what we’re thankful for and I felt like we’d put at least some thought into it. Could it have been much more thoughtful? Yes. And perhaps next year we will have a better plan as this seems for me to be a year of learning.
While we were at Mom’s, MSNBC had a brief story about Lincoln’s declaration of the Thanksgiving holiday back in 1863. Dan informed me that Lincoln made his declaration for a day of thanksgiving just after the battle of Chickamouga, one of the bloodiest losses of the Civil War with 34,624 casualties. However, Lincoln’s proclamation said nothing of pilgrims or Indians or turkeys for that matter. It was a imploring that God heal the “wounds of the nation” and restore a “full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.”
Washington issued a similar proclamation 74 years earlier to the day on 10-3-1789. While his did not create a national holiday, it too had nothing to do with pilgrims, Indians, or turkey. Again, it was in deference to “Almighty God” and requested our humble thanks for “his Providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war” (Revolutionary) among other things. [I’m not sure if there just weren’t enough “s” type pieces or if the “f” and “s” pieces were somehow in proximity and thus often interchanged during typesetting.]
And now there is evidence that the “first” Thanksgiving may have happened in St Augustine, Florida! (1565) [But, of course, this is Fox News so there is little evidence or fact offered in the story… ] The Catholics had more on it along with a second “Thanksgiving” held April 30, 1598 in Texas! This Texas Almanac link was full of details on this and closes with enough examples of claims to the holiday to prove there are too many claims to the beginnings of “Thanksgiving” to give an exhaustive list.
In reality, any discussions of the “first Thanksgiving” are wrong regardless as peoples of all kinds have for centuries practiced feasts of “thanksgiving”. Even though it began officially in the U.S. as the last Thursday in November under Lincoln, Roosevelt moved it to the earlier fourth Thursday in 1939, prompted by requests from the National Retail Dry Goods Association because the later date only allowed 20 shopping days for Christmas! [Told you it was a capitalist dream come true!] Roosevelt had declined their request in 1933 as he thought it would create confusion and he proved this was the case in 1939 when he granted it and only 23 states joined him in the move while 23 states stayed with the original last Thursday. Texas and Colorado apparently celebrated both days… Confusion continued in 1940 and, in 1941 Roosevelt made it official with a national law declaring the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving Day. Texas held out until 1957 in adhering to the new national law by finally changing their state law to match.
After quite a bit of time reading about the history and the mythology, I found many good links for further edification. Rebecca Beatrice Brooks gave a shorter historical review of what many think of as the “first Thanksgiving” in her History of Massachusetts Blog. A longer and more complex explanation, with detailed journal entries, was given by Karen Felte in 2001.
For most Americans, the main idea of Thanksgiving’s beginnings lie in the mythology of a struggling colonial population learning skills from their Native friends , which culminated in a celebration in 1621 of a great “thanksgiving” feast after the harvest.
The details are a bit trickier when you dig into it. The colonists did struggle after arriving in 1607 at Jamestown because of severe drought and cold winters. Their arrival coincided with a seven-year drought (1606–1612), the driest stretch in 770 years. The subsequent pressure by the English on the Natives for help led to conflict and eventually a siege of their fort by Powhatan, the main chief of many local Natives, in 1609 that resulted in something I don’t recall learning about, the Starving Time. This only ended when reinforcements brought advantage back to the English and allowed the capture of Powhatan’s daughter – someone you might have heard of… Pocahontas – who was used as leverage to negotiate a peace. After all this, I find it hard to believe there could ever have been a “peaceful celebration feast between pilgrims and Indians” less than ten years later.
There is also belief that the true meaning of Thanksgiving is a result of the Mystic Massacre of 1637. Part of the Pequot Wars, this May 23rd attack occurred during the Native’s own Green Corn Festival. The two exits to the Pequot Fort were set afire by forces commanded by Captains John Mason and John Underhill after an initial rush into Fort Mystic was found to be overwhelming. In this burning, the colonists killed hundreds, most of the village, including many women, elderly, and children. Anyone who attempted escape was killed by the English forces or the Narragansett and Mohegan allies that backed them. Following the attack, the Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay Colony declared a “day of thanksgiving”.
“The 12th of the 8th m. was ordered to bee kept a day of publicke thanksgiving to God for his great m’cies in subdewing the Pecoits, bringing the soldiers in safety, the successe of the conference, & good news from Germany.” ~ Nathaniel Shurtleff, ed. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, Vol I. Boston, 1853. p.204
As with any portion of history, there are many sides to the story and many perspectives of belief. Yes, some were grateful for the Fort Mystic Massacre. But others expressed regret for the injustice. Just like the German Holocaust, some Germans failed to evade the brainwashing of the Nazis while others, namely the White Rose Society members, stood strongly against them throughout. Even today we cannot find common ground on killings. And while some in the long ago past may have celebrated a massacre of the Pequot with a day of “publicke thanksgiving to God for his great m’cies in subdewing the Pecoits”, I would hope to believe that few if anyone today is celebrating Thanksgiving with the massacre of Indians in mind.
“While few would suggest that Thanksgiving should become the occasion for a yearly guilt trip, we would do well to remember the price the first Americans paid for European expansion into their territories as we sit around the bountiful table with our family and friends. Only by openly acknowledging the sins of our collective past, is it possible to proceed toward a future that all Americans can feel thankful for.” ~ Richard Schiffman, Huffington Post
In reality, every time we feast, we are truly, consciously or subconsciously, giving thanks. And this is more in line with an idea expressed in Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer where she discusses The Thanksgiving Address of the Haudenosaunee. In this video, these people discuss the beauty and power of this practice. We are dependent on Creator and all of Creation for our continued survival. It is thoughtful and respectful to remember this with ongoing thanks-giving. To remember that we are all connected to Mother Earth and all her residents.
I have friends who offer tobacco (aka kinikinik) daily. Not growing up in a religious household or one that followed any daily rituals, this is somewhat foreign to me. Though I have incorporated some forms of ritual that I’ve gathered over the years as part of my own practices, I’m quite inconsistent with anything. I have quite an eclectic mix of practices but I am more of an as-it-comes-to-mind-in-my-daily-endeavors kind of practitioner rather than one who prays before each meal or as a morning routine. But I kind of live in a constant state of gratitude as best I can. It’s difficult in these trying times to hold to gratitude but I do my best.
From this year’s coverage, I thought these stories were interesting:
After years of racism and sexist news out of NC, this story highlights a controversy regarding teaching of Thanksgiving in schools that occurred in North Carolina’s Wake County public schools district after a tweet by Lauryn Mascareñaz of the district’s Office of Equity Affairs. IMO, this article appropriately references this excerpt:
“More than a century later, the U.S. still wrestles with challenges of diversity, and we’re still tempted to distort the “first Thanksgiving” into one of two equally present-minded morality tales: the heart-warming multicultural celebration or the cruel reminder of European colonialism. Both tell us more about current perspectives than historical realities. If such caricatures are really our best options, historical truth would be better served by deleting Thanksgiving from the curriculum entirely.” ~ NY Times opinion by Robert Tracy McKenzie
I believe what’s important to remember is that there are many ideas and memories around this holiday. Some are happy and inclusive and compassionate and some are horrible and cruel and brutal. I believe they are all a part of the history of where we are today and can be thoughtfully incorporated into perhaps a new day in the future where we heal the hurts of the past and celebrate our communal bounty. But first we must find a way to come together to determine what wounds need healing and how we can best go about doing that. And likely first we need to find a way to find common ground together as we strive to forge a more loving and compassionate world. We have a long way to go… but we can take a first step.