This past week sure has been a long, fun, crazy week of planning and preparing, learning and loving, understanding and sharing… as we approached the one-year anniversary of the day Enbridge ruptured the Clearbrook Aquifer adjacent to their Terminal Tank Yard.
Hands and hearts working together in the public, as the State continues to ignore, oppress, and gaslight those of us working to protect Sacred Water, Nibi, the Source of all Life.
Ignoring the Public
We know the Agencies are ignoring us as we’ve been working to wake them up to Enbridge’s lies, dangers, and destruction for almost a decade now. And yet, Line 93, Enbridge’s Relocation and Expansion Pipeline, has been built and flowing Tar Sands through my back yard since October. Meanwhile, Enbridge’s reporting to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows their imports to the Mainline System ARE ON THE DECLINE!
So WHY did we need to cull our water-holding, oxygen-giving forests? WHY risk our water-filtering wetlands and rivers, if the declining fossil fuel extraction could have been served with EXISTING infrastructure… WITHOUT DISTURBING and DESECRATING the NATURAL INFRASTRUCTURE – on which all life depends?
It seems humans are so intent on their own wishes, they forget that ALL of those wishes are only fulfilled by a robust and healthy biodiverse environment.
Oppressing the Public
While we found solidarity in our work this week, none seemed possible with the Agencies who continue to conceal the damages done by Enbridge across our state, all while not monitoring the ongoing concerns.
The Twin Cities Breach-iversary event Friday ~ planned for the front walk of the DNR Office Building in St. Paul where previous Press Conferences have been carried out in the past ~ found Water Protectors instead pushed to the street!
DNR Security harassed people about parking… in a parking lot that was perhaps 15% full! They would not allow us to be on the sidewalk in front of the DNR building!! Instead, they PUSHED the group to the public sidewalk by busy Lafayette Road!
Why this continued HARASSMENT of Water Protectors by DNR Officials???
I suspect it is because the DNR is telling us that We Are NOT WELCOME and WILL NOT BE HEARD.
My good friend Jaci posted about this situation on Friday:
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources why do you discriminate? What did you base your decision on today—which press conference can stand at our DNR doorway and which one gets pushed to the sidewalk? We are literally trying to work with you to protect our water (train us to be monitors!) but you “greeted” us with security hassles while parking and then told us we could not stand at our state agency. Next you’ll be arresting us for standing peacefully, exercising our first amendment rights. Oh wait! You’ve already done that to me and many others!
I used to be so proud of you, DNR, and had dreams of working for you but honestly, I don’t know who you are and what your purpose is anymore. Well, other than to protect the interests of foreign corporations. I know there are good folks that do good work for the DNR but it appears you are being suppressed. Please, I beg of you (I’ve been known to get down on my hands and knees!) it’s time to blow the whistle! There are millions of Minnesotans who will support you!
First photo is Stop PolyMet press conference I was honored to attend in 2018. Second photo is from today.”
Thank you for speaking to the oppression citizens are seeing by the Minnesota DNR. Most wouldn’t believe our stories of the DNR but we all know we’ve seen a lot of gaslighting of citizens and refusals to meet with us, or even to respond to our inquiries.My response to 1/21/22 FB Post
I imagine there are many employees whose hearts are with us… even if their job restrictions don’t allow them to stand with us in public in front of their employer.
We all know the Mark Toso v. MPCA cases could be far more common. We’ve seen the process. We’ve watched the hearings, read the documents, heard the stories, had the quiet conversations.
The people will stand for protection of all life. We pray for everyone to join us in this work, whether agency employed or not.
Because it’s clear the process is broken. When a foreign multinational can destroy our lands without any way for us to stop them… or even slow them down… let alone hold them accountable… for the unfixable, it’s clear the people take second place to corporations ruining our landscape and poisoning our water, one project at a time.”
Gaslighting the Public
And, yes, they are gaslighting us as well.
On Thursday afternoon, the DNR held their first 2022 Commissioner’s Office Hours event – focused on 2022 Legislative priorities. I asked my questions and, when I finished, Gail Nosek, Communications Director of the DNR said this:
Thank you for the questions and comments, Jami. I do want to make sure to remind people that we understand there is a lot of passion around these issues, but these are meant to be respectful conversations as well.”Gail Nosek – implying I’d been disrespectful!?!?! …without any evidence provided to back that up?
I’d ask you, WHERE EXACTLY was I disrespectful??? Here’s what I said (including the MANY corrections to their meeting transcript capture below. My actual words are in non-italics amidst their often incomplete and stricken inaccuracies. Interesting to note that, for as many interactions as they have with them, the transcriber simply CANNOT SEEM to capture the word “Enbridge”… not ONE single time! 🧐 I highlighted the most interesting of their misquotes…):
I took a look at the DNR proposals for funding and noted that it appears the lion’s share of the focus is on anthropogenic purposes like trails through the wilderness and economic management of selling off our natural resources as opposed toMy comments to the DNR during the January 20th Commissioner’s Office Hours event
instead ofprotecting them and the rich biodiversity on which we all depend.
We watched as the DNR has done a miserable job of monitoring the line three project that tore through our state at a breakneck pace resulting
resultedin a flurry of environmental damages throughout the new corridor that still await re-meditation. They’veWhile Enbridge has been pumping oil since October, we see just this morning toa report that they finally managed to stop the flow at the Clearbrook Aquifer Breach which they created by willfully violating the DNR’s lo-resLow Risk Construction Permit. It is obvious from the re-meditation order details that theythe DNR failed to manage the monitoring theprocess to detect this egregious violation, in part because Enbridge failed to report it for, really clearly, for almost six months. And it appears we need to address the permanentPermitting activity for which we give the DNR authority. I would ask, where were the on-site DNR officials during the obvious permit violations and environmental concerns, why did the egregious violation of the construction permit not result in a stoppage of work until the aquifer was repaired, instead they wereEnbridge was focused on completing their pipeline, allowing the uncontrolled flow of the aquifer throughout the last year, and the DNR allowed them to do so.
I would ask, what it is exactly that would’ve called for a stoppage of the project if not violations of the permit.
It isIs the agency to fill ustoothless with regard to protecting our natural resources from bad acting applicants willfully desecrating our land? Will the DNR be seeking legislation that allows more authority as we look to reduce the environmental impacts of humans or will you continue to look at what appears to be a techCheck-box approach, allowing our state to be destroyed one project at a time?
It seems the agency lacks technical capacity to determine that the engineering data
and bridgeEnbridge provided did not accurately account for the geology and the topography of our landscape, which was truly the worst place for oura Tar Sands pipeline. IfSo can you couldspeak to the funding around the permitting work and I just close with this. IIt would’ve really to me seemed— it would’ve beena better use for DNR commissionConservation officers andin deploying them along the project route with unannounced monitoring visits to determine what exactly was happening andin our environment instead of what they mostly spent their time doing, which was banging heads of citizens to quell the public outcry to this destructive project. Which we know is not needed as we’ve seen in thisa decrease in imports for theEnbridge’s mainline system. So please let me know, what are you doing to assure that you have the technical expertise to complete the projects that we need done in a way that doesn’t damage our landscape, but instead protects the things that are important to life.
While I asked Gail, both publicly and privately for an explanation in the chat, she gave me NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER. THIS is how the DNR treats ENGAGING CITIZENS. They IGNORE us, OPPRESS us, and/or GASLIGHT us.
Later in the meeting, another citizen asked (again, with corrections to the DNR’s transcript, and a key concern noted early on…):
I actually wrote my comments in the chat. It seems to me that the DNR [Perhaps THIS RIGHT HERE – inaccurate listening and transcribing – is one of the problems???]Don Pietrick’s OHV (Off-Highway Vehicles) Question at January 2022 DNR Office Hours event
isn’tIS engaged in promoting recreation by building more and more trails inon public lands. Motorized recreation exasperates climate change in a number of ways by burning fossil fuels, but also by requiring bigger vehicles, trucks, SUVs to pull trailers, that consume fossil fuels at a higher level, to pull these trailers of ATVs and snowmobiles to their recreation destinations. I’m wondering how does the DNR — square their development and it’s engagement in the development of more and more OHV trails with its responsibility tryingto mitigate climate change impacts andon all the natural resources… and so forth. I wasI’m still having trouble seeing the DNR doing those, things that are really in conflict with one another. That is my question. Thank you.
Gail had NO Criticism for Don being disrespectful… though perhaps it’s because she was confused trying to hear him… even though his question had already been posted in the chat… TWICE!?! [Which he mentioned as he began speaking… meaning she could have simply read along, as some of us did to understand Don’s question? Alas, she could not.] But HEY! At least the Chat was PUBLICLY TRANSPARENT!! That’s a change I often requested in complaints to the DNR in 2020 & 2021 regarding their continued apparent unwillingness to have publicly visible comments between attendees at these events. Just giving them clues on how to TRULY Engage the Public!! 😀
[One small change I was able to help bring about… only took a couple years, eh? Though we’ll see if they continue this practice in February? We now know that they can!! So if they don’t continue this bit of transparency, it will be just one more nail in the coffin labeled “The DNR Just Doesn’t Want Public Engagement”?] Here are a couple of the great public chat comments:
Perhaps most concerning is, for those hard of hearing or reading the transcript after the fact, the real question Don asked is HIDDEN by DNR’s verbiage. Their transcript 1) implied DNR is NOT making more trails, 2) minimized the impacts Don shared about trailering and increased fossil fuel use, and finally 3) obfuscated Don’s main focus of SQUARING the DNR’s heavy OHV focus with their proposed mission of mitigating climate change. Though, reading this sentence – as DNR captured it – may be telling: “I’m wondering how does the DNR — trying to mitigate climate change impacts and all the natural resources.” Yeah, they do seem, Don, to be “mitigating… ALL the natural resources” …and by that, I mean all these appropriate synonyms: reducing, diminishing, weakening, and, most often… deadening our natural resources.
MinnPost had a good piece on these concerns Friday as well, noting: “Sustainable environmental policy needs more holistic oversight and that is limited in this state.”
Peter closes with a strong argument and a few great suggestions:
The state should have a high-level group for strategic thinking on sustainable environmental policy options, but then decisions on priorities need to be refined by preferences elicited across all the important stakeholders including the tribal nations. There will undoubtedly be urgency and political pressures to act as more funds flow so it will be impractical to ask everybody about options all the time. Community leaders will be important. Increasingly, though, we should involve the power of the internet, big data and crowdsourcing in informing decisions.MinnPost 1/21/22: Environmental inequality: the other Minnesota paradox by Peter Calow
To deliver for the economy, environment and people taking account of the present and future generations needs a holistic approach. Balancing the inevitable trade-offs in a way that is transparent and sensitive to public preferences is the challenge. The state has a way to go in delivering on this.
I’d agree on the Minnesota Agencies’ LONG WAY TO GO in Transparency, for sure… as well as their inability to be sensitive to public preferences… though I might take friendly disagreement with his earlier statement on technical expertise. While technical experts may exist in our agencies, it seems they lack the capacity to piece through the misinformation and deceptions presented by Engineers representing Applicants. This might be no more clear than in the Enbridge Aquifer Breach at Clearbrook.
The DNR was unable to detect the inaccurate information presented in applications by Enbridge’s engineers, which drove them to allow Enbridge a “Low Risk Construction Permit” at this location. A huge mistake as the site of the breached aquifer is quite close to two Calcarious Fens, which are specially protected entities. It’s hard to comprehend, as the state geologists and hydrologists should surely have been able to understand that this area – an old washout of a long ago river – would be full of irregular geology that might cause problems in trenching?
OUR experts could see the issues. And we testified about the problems of putting a new tar sands pipeline through this area of our state, giving proposed alternative routes, and begging for agency officials to COME SEE THIS LAND with their OWN EYES… all to no avail. And, in the end, the DNR obviously lacked the necessary technical resources to properly and/or completely READ THE MONITORING REPORTS and determine that something was amiss and more urgent attention was clearly needed at the work site… for over 5 months!
Perhaps Gail’s comment on my being “disrespectful” was because she didn’t like the FACTS that I was disclosing about the DNR? 🧐
All this said, it does seem the tide is turning.
- The people continue to speak… even when they are PUSHED from the Public Right-of-Way.
- We continue to make valid points and ask concerning questions that the Agencies CONTINUE TO IGNORE and NOT ANSWER.
- Yet we persist. Even with all the gaslighting techniques employed by the DNR.
Last Real Indians posted this Friday:
US Attorney Drops Charges Against Indigenous Water Protectors and Allies Who Occupied Bureau of Indian Affairs Demanding Indigenous Rights Be UpheldUS Attorney Drops Charges Against Indigenous Water Protectors and Allies Who Occupied Bureau of Indian Affairs – 1/21/22
It’s time for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to FOLLOW THIS LEAD, writing an amicus brief to all Law Enforcement Agencies that banged heads for Enbridge along the corridor – arresting PEACEFUL CITIZENS and Tribal Members ON THEIR OWN LAND – as Jaci mentioned at the start of this blog. He must insist that they DROP THE CHARGES!
The counties were reimbursed by Enbridge to the tune of almost $5M – with more filings expected so likely to be higher still? – for their LE officers “trouble” in harassing citizens on Enbridge’s behalf. But Enbridge’s escrow account manager refuses to FINANCE the prosecutions… as they are outside the allowed reimbursables. Just another way Enbridge creates more costs and cleanup for local people as it leaves their environment and communities in disarray.
It is ridiculous to me that Water Protectors, standing for us all, face criminal charges and fines geared to disable them in major ways… while the real criminal, Enbridge, gets to continue hiding it’s damages, paying pittances of fines, and facing no criminal charges for poisoning our air, land, and water.
Still, we have pending suits remaining against the project. (Why is Biden’s Court taking OH SO LONG to rule on filings made 12/24/20 and 1/24/21? And WHY did they refuse to even HEAR the case where Tribes asked for an injunction on the Line 3 project?) Seems so many agencies, courts, and officials have colluded to keep this project from stopping… while ignoring the obvious science, climate chaos, and voices speaking in opposition.
To close, here’s a little Fun Stuff from the Clearbrook Breach-iversary event! It seems perhaps Enbridge is ready to get involved with us!?!? 🧐
This is a little clip of their operator… blocking the entrance to the work site… as we all watched… and filmed. He’s got a whole new technique!! 😜