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After posting last week’s blog, I got a request to update folks on what the current legal status is for the proposed Enbridge Line 3 project. I will admit my title was a bit deceiving… the Motions for Stay to the Court of Appeals were what I was anticipating, not a Stay decision, which would take a few more days… or longer.
While Enbridge experienced their first fatality on the project, we still hear no word from the Walz Administration to give pause for the project. No stopping for death of any kind it seems… The politics on the Virus and the Project are undeniable these days. 😦
So, where are we exactly with the Line 3 legal fight? This is what Kevin Whelen, former Executive Director for MN350 and current Line 3 Water Protector active in the Palisade, MN area wanted to know after reading last week’s blog.
RE Kevin’s request for an overview:
Friends of the Headwaters hopes that the court will expedite a stay request, but it’s unlikely that our other appeals will get decisions before spring.
Current FOH court appeals regarding the Line 3 oil pipeline:
* A challenge to the MN Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) misguided and lackadaisical decisions around the contested case and the water permits.
* An appeal DISPUTING THE ADEQUACY OF EIS, the Line 3 Environmental Impact Statement.
* A STAY ON LINE 3 CONSTRUCTION until the appeals have been heard, argued, and decided.
* An appeal CHALLENGING THE MN PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (PUC)–its process, its lazy acceptance of incomplete Enbridge data, its willful ignorance regarding the MN Environmental Policy Act, and its incoherent rationale for Line 3.
* A legal complaint regarding the US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) 404 permit.Friends of the Headwaters’ member response on FB 12-15-20 (my additions)
What does all this mean? And when can we hope for relief from the Enbridge onslaught to our forests and wetlands?
We must first remember how unlikely a Stay is to secure: 50% of requests don’t get the desired ruling. It’s almost always a long-shot. That said, 2020 isn’t like most other times. And the presence of a Global Pandemic, alongside increasing evidence that we need urgent and immediate response by governments as the planet burns, floods, and convulses due to the human activity – may help our cases.
The LTEs are fast and furious, with most of the Enbridge support focusing on jobs and profits and most of the opposition focused on the risks for death and environmental destruction. Which do YOU find “Irreparable”? I think it’s pretty clear we can fix jobs and financial problems while death is hard to remedy… whether it’s an 80-year old tree or your 80-year old Grandma.
A temporary Stay for cultural reasons was issued recently when on December 5th the project encountered a lodge (waaginogaan) near the proposed SECOND crossing under the Mississippi River. [Why cross once when you can cross TWICE? FFS. This project is a bad idea for SO MANY FUCKING reasons.] To my knowledge, Enbridge has YET to produce their Cultural Resources Monitor to review the location with The People, though work continues to the west of the lodge, including on a drill pad at the Mississippi River. [18:55 is a summary by Winona of the project. Permits with no enforcement power… No protection of the Water. The details on the Cultural Resources Monitor is at 26:30 (24:24-28:00 covers the topic). So far, no response for the White Earth Tribal Historic Preservation Officer on a name for that Enbridge representative, who is supposed to be leading any work that involves digging? Who can call Enbridge to task for NOT having the Appropriate Cultural personnel to do a project of this magnitude through Indian Country??? It seems no one. It’s been more than two weeks and no response from the MPCA, PUC, DNR, or even Enbridge – as they barrel on with their work.
Winona also mentioned the death at Hill City and the speed Enbridge is using on this project. She notes (28:25) that Transmountain had two workers die and an injury (12/16/20) and they have closed their project down this week. That article notes the injury occurred after MULTIPLE COVID violations were discovered on inspections. There was also a father of 4 lost in late October on the project – “That injury comes seven weeks after an employee of SA Energy — the contractor leading the pipeline expansion work in the Edmonton region — died at a work site on the outskirts of the Alberta capital. Samatar Sahal, 40, was caught and pinned under a crossbeam of a trench box that was being disassembled at a Trans Mountain site on Oct. 27.” Rushing pipelines IS a dangerous thing.
Trans Mountain is suspending all work in Burnaby and across the entire pipeline route starting Friday, Dec. 18 until Jan. 4, 2021, says a statement. …
The accident follows revelations that federal regulators recently found “systemic non-compliances” of COVID-19 mask rules at Trans Mountain worksites in Burnaby and the Lower Mainland.
Four workers were sent home following an inspection that found more than three dozen violations by contractors in three days.
Canadian Energy Regulator staff conducted a compliance inspection at the Westridge Marine Terminal (Dec. 1) and the Burnaby Terminal (Dec. 2) on Burnaby Mountain. The inspection also focused on “Spread 7,” the section of the pipeline expansion construction being done in the Lower Mainland, on Dec. 3. Work at each of these sites is contracted out to Kiewit-Ledcor Trans Mountain Partnership (KLTP).
Over the course of those three days, the inspector found 37 violations of three COVID protocols set out by Trans Mountain’s COVID-19 response plan.”Trans Mountain suspends project in Burnaby and across pipeline route after worker hurt Are they being considerate humans? Or screwing workers out of holiday pay?
And is this kind of COVID violation happening in Minnesota on the Line 3 project? Some photos have been secured on non-complying contractors locally. Regardless of whether or not protocols are followed, COVID is a real risk in our communities. This is a screenshot from a recent FB posting for an employee on the Line 3 project:
As noted above, there are multiple fronts in this tar sands pipeline opposition:
Once filed with the Minnesota Court of Appeals, estimates are 15-20 days being about as quick as the Stay could be issued – not much less as Enbridge will be offered a chance to respond. Based on all the reading I have done, the case seems pretty cut-and-dried. And the scientific evidence is certainly piling up against it being a good idea to 1) build a tar sands pipeline ever again, and 2) to even consider doing that unnecessary work during a global pandemic.
Here’s hoping that the Court of Appeals will represent a branch of Minnesota government showing reason and an adherence to the law – kinda their balliwick, eh? – as we’ve not seen that to date from the Executive or Legislative branches. The politics of collusion with Enbridge is thick and includes our media – even resulting in Osterholm NOT being asked about the effect of Line 3 pipeliners coming into the state on River Radio… though a local politician had asked for the question to be presented. Though he did mention that, even with the vaccine, we’ll be seeing the effects from COVID for “many years to come”. He also worried about the tremendous damage we’re doing with PTSD to our health care professionals. Yet, still no #DelayLine3 effort from the Walz Administration? Perhaps they can get Ellison and Osterholm on TOGETHER and talk the Science of Climate Change and COVID and how the Enbridge Line 3 project makes NO SENSE on either front. The focus of the program was on economics, not life, it seems. 😦
Rather than write much, I’ll direct you to Healing Minnesota Stories’ Monday blog post about their last weekend’s experience. Sadly, DNR Conservation Officers have been co-opted to work against the citizens of Minnesota – also illegally – in supporting the Canadian Oil Transport Company, Enbridge, over the People of Minnesota. I will note that the treatment of Water Protectors and Natives, and their culture especially, has been egregious. Officers grabbing a Staff (these revered beings are to be respected) and holding people with hands bound behind their backs in freezing temperatures for almost an hour? WTF? How is THAT humane? Strip searching people for petty misdemeanor offenses? During a pandemic? Taking N95 masks from vulnerable parties and giving them paper masks? These aren’t hardened criminals that required jailing, they are young women and older ladies standing to protect the water! The actions of this Sheriff were beyond comprehension and truly are criminal. It is clear the intention was to dissuade further voice to those opposing the Line 3 project. I do not think their actions will be successful. I think mainly they will reveal the inhumanity of our law enforcement officers acting as goons… for a few Enbridge dollars.
Three Honor the Earth and Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light volunteers accessed the waaginogaan area for prayer. We were up the river bank – 150 yards from ANY construction – and were besieged by eight DNR Officers crashing through the woods yelling at us, citing us. Definitely a show of force.”Shared after an early December experience at the proposed Line 3 Mississippi River Crossing
Big news this past week regarding Lloyd’s of London:
Caving to pressure from climate action campaigners, Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance market, announced Wednesday that it will no longer cover coal-fired power plants and mines, tar sands, or Arctic energy exploration activities from January 2022 onward, with plans to fully phase out such businesses by 2030.Under Pressure From Climate Activists, World’s Largest Insurance Market to Ditch Coal, Tar Sands, and Arctic Projects 12/17/20 Common Dreams
Meanwhile, Climate Justice Advocacy groups bemoan the announcement as still too little, too late:
We welcome Lloyd’s new policy of no longer providing new insurance cover for coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, oil sands, and new Arctic energy exploration as a step in the right direction,” said Lindsay Keenan, European coordinator for Insure Our Future, in a statement. “However, the policy should take effect now, not 2022.”
“Additionally, the target date for Lloyd’s to phase out existing policies should be January 2021 for companies still developing new coal and tar sand projects,” she said. “Lloyd’s 2030 deadline is not justified by climate science and the urgent need for action. We will continue to hold Lloyd’s accountable until it has met these recommendations.” …
Flora Rebello Arduini, senior campaigner consultant for SumOfUs… “Lloyd’s needs to prohibits all members of its market from renewing insurance for the Adani Carmichael coal mine, the Trans Mountain tar sand pipeline extension, and other such climate-wrecking projects when they come up for renewal in 2021, not in 2030.” …
Elana Sulakshana, energy finance campaigner at Rainforest Action Network, put it: “Lloyd’s is sending a message to the U.S. insurance industry that it cannot continue its unchecked support for climate-wrecking projects under the Lloyd’s name.”
“Building on today’s momentum, we will continue pressuring the U.S. insurance industry to match and exceed Lloyd’s policies across their entire fossil fuel underwriting and investment portfolios,” Sulakshana vowed. …
Lloyd’s announcement is “a step in the right direction” but “not enough,” said Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. ” As Indigenous Peoples, we are living in ground zero of climate change while fighting to protect our sacred lands and our ways of life. People need to understand that the land, the water, and the animals are what makes us who we are.”
“Our human rights have been violated not just by our government but by corporations and people that are not educated on Indigenous issues,” she added. “We urge Lloyd’s to join AXA and Swiss Re to exclude themselves from any Arctic Refuge energy development or exploration immediately and show the world that they respect the rights of Indigenous peoples whose lives will forever change if drilling is to occur.Under Pressure From Climate Activists, World’s Largest Insurance Market to Ditch Coal, Tar Sands, and Arctic Projects 12/17/20 Common Dreams
The piece notes: “AIG, Liberty Mutual, and other U.S. insurers that operate Lloyd’s syndicates will be forced to abide by the new rules for their underwriting.”
So that could mean Enbridge will no longer have insurance for their pipelines NEAR-TERM. THIS should be a good reason to evaluate whether we REALLY want a Tar Sands pipeline pushed through Minnesota forests and wetlands. I mean, who is gonna pay for the spill if Enbridge no longer has an insurance policy?
Enbridge can’t even file their fucking compliance paperwork correctly:
If they can’t even complete their compliance filings correctly – something they’d done hundreds of times over the decades – How On EARTH can we trust them to comply with the complex things like engineering documents and environmental permits… or novel things like COVID protocols? For crying out loud, they’ve already RUSHED to their FIRST Fatality on the Project… Days ago now, yet no details have emerged. [As of Sunday evening.]
And what of our own Minnesota DNR? I hear they were threatening newly-elected Minnesota Legislators with arrest this past weekend. Guess they’ll see how that threatening nature goes for them moving forward. [My money is on the Legislative Ladies! Bunch of STRONG VOICES willing to speak up for THE PEOPLE.]
#StayLine3 #DelayLine3 #Pause4Pandemic
Got a last minute notice of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board’s Environmental Review Improvement Subcommittee meeting, so decided to attend. Here’s my take.
Katie Pratt – Still have OPEN CD4 & CD5 positions for Citizen Board membership.
Giuseppe Tumminello presented the ER Data Mgmt Plan & 2019 Performance Report with Thanks to the Tech Reps and MEQB staff.
His Questions: Framework and Metrics – are they meaningful info to make ER better? What would you like to see?
MN Rule 4410.0400 Subpart 1 says MEQB role is monitoring effectiveness of parts 4410.0200 (definitions) to 4410.6500 (paying EIS costs) and taking appropriate measures to modify and improve their effectiveness. (Water Quality is in pretty shit shape so… kinda failing.)
My ideas: Citizens have a BUNCH of usable information that your agencies are ignoring… systematic access to decision makers is not really a thing, nor is accountability… Delegating authority needs to be pulled back when RGUs demonstrate regulatory capture… There is no need to reduce delay if it means we will ignore the need to be thorough. And we need to start to reduce uncertainty with the use of REAL SCIENTISTS to review the projects!
My questions: What evaluation was made of WHAT IS WORKING? HOW ARE YOU understanding the effectiveness?
Guiseppe’s Data Management Plan Framework and Metrics were reviewed… looking at frequency checks (for ER types, processes by category and RGU, and completeness of citizen petitions), efficiency checks (cost and time for ER and EQB Staff performance) and Transparency (for usable info and citizen participation). [Makes one want to throat punch someone… this last point is just laughable.] But he went on to present some highlights:
Data Mgmt Plan – adaptable each year!! We’ll keep doing nothing… and making sure we talk about how we can keep doing nothing… [Yeah. Great.]
Questions: [I got what I could. You can listen to the whole presentation and such here.]
Bryan – what info is available in the map – project info? G: Monitor info included. B: Some include links, some don’t. G: RGU prerogative to share that. We share if provided. No link? Pop-up will have responsible RGU name and contact for more info. B: RGUs should have capability to provide that. Denise: Further explanation… Rule is current – would like more discussion on ERIS to see how we look at expanding how notification requirements are included.
Bryan: EAW world – citizen members want to understand… Along with current, could there be an available cell with a running record of EAWs that can be sorted/searched based on categories – for reference. [GOOD SUGGESTION!] G: Exploring ways to do that.
Alan Forsberg Q… G: Accountability section performance report – pie chart on RGUs doing ER – maybe a majority – are from local govts. MEQB staff should be reaching out to staff at local RGUs for their experience.
Alan: MEQB measures its performance – what about MPCA, DNR, etc? Measuring effectiveness of their permits? Denise: Don’t engage with other agencies on their effectiveness but some monitor their programs. A: Drawing on many DNR – times when process is counter-productive to what environment is trying to achieve. SS: ER vs. permitting – often related and intersecting. Specific to Permitting? Not ER? Alan: Unrelated question… I apologize. They relate… overlap – info for ER and permits – there is a relationship.
Ben: Maps and access. Getting info from EQB monitor – notice methodology between 2015 and 2020… evidence based to improve it? As much info to public as possible? G: Since 2015, a pilot process (CI) to improve data collected and shared. DMP will be adaptive… will change as this is the first we’re proposing. Frequency of ER… objective data – won’t change much. Recommendation in current performance report not yet incorporated. These are just proposed. 2022 data will be available to share on this…Denise: Data sets gathering… data from subcommittee…
Kristin: Note the language – I appreciate the language – Public Members – ALL of us as practitioners. Better framing of inclusive language. Earlier Q on survey for RGUs … did ER make a difference for environmental quality? Are we still asking this question? G: Don’t recall where… one question we are proposing to ask is tied specifically to… going back to objectives – providing usable information. Not covered today but ID’d in report. Asking if the process gave usable info not otherwise being collected. Is value provided? K: Found it interesting we included it in previous surveys – applies to effectiveness of system. Consideration I’d appreciate is keeping in mind integrity of the information. Been in several ER that were delayed, created uncertainty, issues of transparency/accountability as the info was so inaccurate. Getting accurate info to public is key. Looking fwd to next steps. G: Consideration is noted. Did the ER process make a difference for outcome for Env Quality? is the question to include.
My question: How is the data mgmt plan looking at the actual results in the field? Like how poor our water quality is now in MN? I’m seeing a check of how the system works as designed, but NOT how the system accurately determines effectiveness in the field. How are you determining how the ER is actually affecting the environment on the ground here in MN? Denise: When ER doc is prepared, a lot of potential ER are ID’d and how to mitigate. Fwd looking at projects as proposed and into permitting and other approvals. Where do you see opportunities for field experience as most of where we touch a project is before construction or implementation? ME: It really speaks to the question that Kristin was just asking. How are we evaluating how our ER process is working? Your mission is to determine if the ER process is actually DOING SOMETHING, rather than just filling out paperwork and checking off boxes. Specifically I look at – and she spoke to the inaccuracy of data – and we can look at the Line 3 project – huge and very controversial. We’ve asked over and over to be involved in agency meetings – we know that meetings are happening with Enbridge – we have scientists and retired MEQB (I meant MPCA)/DNR people, health professionals, and citizens like me, abutters to the line, who’d really like to have our voices heard. I’d really like you to come up to the LaSalle Valley and look at where they want to install this pipeline. Look at the land and the water levels on the ground. Trying to understand how the MEQB is finding that THAT SYSTEM is actually working to protect the environment. Especially when we’re seeing many many people living with tainted water quality in MN now. D: Thinking about opps I’m aware of to make connections. Think about it further given that perspective. Come back to the Guiding principles. What is the Purpose and objective and tying it back to the relationship to procedures in 4410 – meant to implement mandates from MEPA… I’d love to talk more on ideas for metrics and where you think that might provide us with meaningful information.
ME: I’m very interested to hear how you plan to engage the public because I do think that has been a real fall down. We’ve tried going to the MEQB, speaking to the concerns we have about the fact that these decisions are being made potentially by RGUs who don’t have the scientific comprehension to understand the environmental review process and how it affects the environment outside of the project they want to implement and rather than what those real affects are to the environment. I’d be very interested, esp as the OLA was looking at the MPCA for engagement this year. That project didn’t get selected but there’s definitely a breakdown between people feeling like they are being heard, who live here, and agencies who are making decisions about things they don’t seem to truly understand. That’s my biggest concern. We need some scientific accountability to what’s happening, rather than agencies just meeting ONLY with applicants, who are VERY gung ho about their projects and aren’t going to tell you anything about not wanting to implement them… versus listening to people in the field who are SEEING these changes happening in our state, seeing our water quality degrade, seeing this tremendous ignoring of citizens, including our Indigenous citizens who have spoken very loudly about this project and that gets into federal law. It’s great that MN has these laws and rules and these ideas but if they are not effective, we need to look at why and how to make them effective. And this isn’t truly doing that. It’s looking at the projects we have and looking at the ER we have and it seems another kicking down the road of we’re going to look at how well we’re doing and see how well we’re doing… instead of looking at WHAT ARE WE DOING, PEOPLE? WHAT ARE WE TRULY DOING? I’d encourage you to start talking with health professionals and scientists in this state… retired agency officials who absolutely understand some of the problems that we’ve seen with regulatory capture, that create a system where applicants continue to get their projects, our water quality and environmental quality continue to degrade, and the people continue to be ignored. D: Thank you for those observations, will take this back to the team. SS: Thanks for the question!
Willis: Ecologist, retired MPCA. Previous commenter made an excellent point by using Line 3 as an example. Not to get into the weeds with that project but let me point out how ER failed miserably. And MEQB can do significant things to change this. EIS was 1000s of pages, revised several times… but… only when MPCA received a permit for 401 was it revealed – for the first time – that the company admitted they could not comply with MN Water Quality standards. If that simple fact was not exposed in the ER documents, of 7000 pages, something was seriously wrong. The public did not know… and (with No F/U in 401 cert process) still does not know, that this project will violate water quality standards all across this state! And now mitigation is being offered as permits are being approved by other agencies. The horse is out of the barn. Hard to correct now… AFTER ER SHOULD HAVE EXPOSED THIS issue and then SERIOUS alternatives could have been considered.
Now to the issue that Kristin raised… over years of participating on MEQB… I’ve consistently suggested that metrics are available that will answer her question. IS ER MAKING A DIFFERENCE ON THE GROUND? Curious and frustrated as no data points here drove to that question. If you don’t, it allows Govt process to proceed bean counting – metaphor of bucket brigade putting out a fire. Counting buckets, polishing them, storing them properly, but buckets are empty (of ER docs themselves)! Let’s look at content and that this is Not measuring what proposers want to measure – reducing delay (serves the project proposer) and duplication (no one wants that). People want process to be effective!
As an ecologist, I can tell you… we’re losing all our birds. Have an avian apocalypse. Losing insects. Apocalyptic outcome – it’s measureable, it’s reportable, and someone is responsible. We’re losing reptiles, amphibians, wild rice. I could go on and on… listing on the ground, in the water criteria that tell us the story of how well humans are NOT LIVING in harmony with their environment as MEPA says. I have offered and I will offer again to sit down with staff and look at meaningful metrics the DNR?MPCA/MDH/MDA accumulates. Metrics that in sum total tell us we have a miserable failure in ER due to no linkage to the ER and our Env losses (plants, insects, wild rice) and losses in human health. 5 connectors in how we: use land, extract resources, distribute invasive species, change the environment, & destroying habitat. If ER CANNOT measure these 5 parameters, why do it??? Those are repeatedly id’d as causes of our apocalyptic conditions in plants, wild life, insects, and human health. We have a Cognitive disconnect between causes of Env deterioration and what we examine in ER. Please accept our offer of a year ago December – in our listening session with SS & LB attending – by group there. Many of these same points were made, OFFERS were MADE AND NONE have been ACCEPTED.. Not called in back to say WHY these methods work. Please stop counting buckets you have in the fire brigade and assure that they are full of water and fire is being put out by some meaningful metric. WILL YOU ACCEPT THE OFFER OF THOSE KINDS OF ASSISTANCE OFFERED by ME AND MY COLLEAGUES REPEATEDLY OVER LAST SEVERAL YEARS? If not, why not? [No REAL Answer… again. Sorry, Willis.] SS: 2 other comments… let’s go to that. WRT Last comment – we’ll respond to that… Kristin have another comment… keep them succinct! Who else do we have?
Lori Cox: Sustainable U-pick fruit farmer (Hubbard?) would love a confirm/deny – handoff for MEQB to allow agencies to monitor or agency’s role to decide? Might bring foresight. DW: Trying to better understand connection for ER doc and how info is used to inform other approval decisions… and the method for other approval decisions… LC: clarified… DW: MEQB role in the rule – responsibility and authority to pass rules and oversight. Delegate implementation to other govt agencies – who interpret how they are applied and how they affect the project decisions. ER gives more look at what Env Impacts are and that informs permitting from other project agencies. Rules require that those approval decisions consider ER docs. No mechanism to give MEQB authority to vette the decisions made by other govt agencies. [So no accountablity for regulatory capture?]
Tim Ahrens: In terms of metric to understand if process is working – rates of permit compliance and non-compliance available? DDW: Regulatory compliance done in framework of agency that oversees permits. MEQB has no authority or oversight of those authorities. [That might be part of the problem…] T: Might be one part of the disconnect. ER informs permit but if permit is not carried out with integrity… SS: Monitoring is agency responsibility.
Kristin: Question on survey was asked retrospectively to parties that participated in ER. Looking for their feeling of if it made a difference. Wanted to clarify that is more process than outcome oriented – different mix. Very valuable convo – wanted to clarify on that being procedural. DW: Asked for perception – data was qualitative and not aimed at whether project resulted in change in the ER but whether they were engaged in the process and the process was better than it would have been without ER. [So they could just think it’s a PITA and respond accordingly…] K: And public input. DW: And public input.
SS: Move to next agenda item… GHG Quantification and Assessment… presented by Denise Wilson. “No inclusion of recommendations today… want to discuss today how to overcome barriers.”
Team consists of Steve Roos (MDA), Louise Miltich [Yep, Anthony’s niece!] (Commerce), David Bell (MDH), Kate Fairman & Cynthia Novak-Krebs (DNR), Melissa Kuskie, Peter Ciborowski & Laura Millberg (PCA), Deb Moynihan, Peter Wasko, Jeff Meeks & Katherine Lind (DOT) and Eric Wojchik (Met Council).
Some of these agencies are project proposers… determine what info is needed and how it will be used. Before implementation of recommendations – we want input to help facilitate convos on this… Not final – tech team will continue to refine. Nothing about adaptation or resiliency or category changes, etc. Much more to be done in the future… Elements we considered:
How Info will be used was reviewed: giving info to proposers/consultants to understand design decisions, RGUs to prepare GHG assessments for all, public can meaningfully participate in approval decisions – knowing climate effects! – and govt decision makers can use info for approval decisions. [Do they ever deny??? All this will only be possible if REAL data is provided…]
Barriers include: different calculations methods/references, broad range of project types, Not all RGUs have expertise, existing calculators/tools don’t meet ER Program needs, and financial and staff resources for GHG calculator tools. [#3 is my favorite!!! What about BS checker from applicant?]
MEQB fix? 2 phases. Phase 1 involves a Qualitative discussion in the EAW form. They’ll even allow voluntary inclusion of QUANTITATIVE GHG emissions! [Voluntary inclusion???]
THEN… once tool is available, a GHG Calculator will expand assessment requirements in the EAW form for projects over 25,000 MT CO2e. [Over what timeframe? Annual?]
Alignment with regulatory requirements reviewed (from EPA website…) [So why do we have to develop our own??? And wait until you see the cost data…]
OMG the cost data!!! $3000 (Excel SS) to $500,000 (App development)!! And, hey, we don’t have 1-3 years for you you figure this thing out! [Noticing that there is no CHAT to all participants… VERY CONTROLLED…] Then Denise asks everyone:
Made hummingbird food… sorry – missed some stuff here… came back to questions from Alan Forsberg.
Alan: reducing transport… Around state different…. Metro – easy but Greater means things are far apart. Commute 70 miles to Redwood Falls… Moving freight… DW: Asking folks to ID alternative mitigation methods considered and why… Maybe those methods make sense in that location but another site would be different. About info sharing. A: Things getting to MN… ethanol plant… lot of moving required for our economy to function.
Margaret Kelliher (DOT): Do believe starting with a calculator could be very beneficial. MNDOT has been working with building up to use a GHG calculator for future projects. Little concern… also have been a Comm very involved in council on technology… when I hear about an App or program development. SS is low risk. Easy way to move fwd quick but benefit for a more complex set of anlysis going with it… 1) Worry about development costs and assuring having resources to do it. 2) are there opps to partner with other orgs across country? Unique with MEQB but not in looking at climate issues Strength in numbers working together or building off existing calculator. 3) Any tech – sustainability and updating going fwd – not only up front costs of scoping and such but also plans for truly utilizing a quanitization of GHG – also a legal element to consider – assure we are accounting for ongoing update and support. DW: Limit scope of what we’re asking folks to review, ID calculators that capture reliable data – Climate Registry… Enterprise has used. How they track and report… Enterprise Sustainability just went through a process to develop a tool for that enterprise. We did consider updating and maintenance – as science is developing quickly. Once downloaded, how do we assure latest tool is in use? Another barrier and challenge. Not sure of answer. Looking for your feedback on where to focus convo. Maybe asses what elements we require at this point. MAK: Happy to help as we look at expertise… to think through how we want to move forward and beyond. Appreciate thought put into this.
Dan Huff: Thanks for comments MAK. Lot to look at and sustainability and funding are key. Timing of Phase 1 & Phase 2. 1 immediately? What is the timeline? DW: Implementing this approach would bring a December subcommittee and Board January for Phase 1 implementation. Challenge is once more detailed assessment is done is that RELIABLE info and good guidance is provided to implement correctly. Phase 1 could be done early next year – Phase 2 longer – also resource dependent for 1-3 year development of tool. DH: Need to move and begin to incorporate GHG ASAP.
Aditya Ranade from Commerce: Support Phase 1. When tool launched, how long is Phase 1? Potential assessment of operating expenses for calculator to individual projects. DW: P1 continues for projects under 25mTCO2. Phase 2 would start when we have a good tool… (so years down the line… Not soon enough. They’re still not getting it…) Chair can amend – we can quicky add requirements and come to chair or board for implementation right away. Ongoing support/maintenance – good question… Depends on how we come up with our package for what needs might be – may need a budget item…
Bryan Murdock: Already regulate GHG on some mandatory categories… like phased approach. Start with those requiring GHG first? Threshold values – # of animal units? Under X size doesn’t require it? Not all need to be burdened. Thresholds would be a great thing. Mega-emitters first, then roll to smaller makes sense. LB: At MPCA working through GHG calcs as related to feedlot proposals – ruling with Daley farms – starting to put this in place in our EAW process to evaluate GHG… Start on some of this. Can look at county… not all sources but some sources… and looks at mitigations applicants are making. Tools to learn from… 5 different ones… since Daley where we’ve looked at GHG emissions wrt animal feedlot process.
Kristin: really excited about ability to start on Phase 1 – encouraging – can start shifting culture around how GHG fits in ER. Concerned for Larger projects awaiting Phase 2. From data, how many projects might P2 apply to? And, if not a large number, possible for tech team to begin working and support evaluation of these larger projects, if not too many. Dula purpose of not letting things go too far or too long and getting concrete exp with these kinds of assessments. [GREAT IDEA!] DW: GHG considered under EAW 100mtCO2 leads to ER… Also for stationary sources that fall under air permitting requirements. Data on projects including this info… since we don’t prepare docs, we don’t track how they are evaluated… Don’t have that now. K: How many MIGHT apply to 25KmTCO2? DW: Haven’t gone through that – looking through mandatory catagories… will evaluate threshold. [Dan’s right, they don’t have this answer…] What gets you to mandatory reporting sector… TBD and how many that exceed that threshold… Will probably do that. KE: bears upon all cost issues. You stated in beginning that you need broader stakeholder convos – who else are you planning to engage? [OOOHHHH!!!] DW: Going to be targeting specific groups – Ag community – many proposers going through. League of MN Cities and Counties and local Muni govt acting as RGUs, State RGUs framing and then, more broadly (framework TB developed) doing outreach with Community groups and perhaps focused groups. [So mainly APPLICANT stakeholders, not AFFECTED PUBLIC… until MAYBE LATER???] [Back to core values implies you’re not adhering to them now???]
Alan: splitting out… moving oil by rail, counting cost of constructing rail line? Or eventually when oil will be burned? DW: Some details ironed out in guidance. Id’d important threshold and will develop questions for specific factors and guidance for how they are implemented. RGU decides what info is needed and how it is assessed. [WHERE IS MEQB OVERSIGHT?] Alan: Many are complex – how do you not double-count? DW: Understand. Thank you.
SS: Lots of energy to get moving on this project! [Kinda late… 646 days since the IPCC report.] Next time, with guidance – will want to devote adequate time to that discussion of these details. Will assure we give that. Like to do… 4 folks seeking public input. Then F/U later. 3 minutes from scheduled adjourned time – “important to hear from public.”
Amelia Vohs: Staff atty at MCEA – Allen Anderson – new Climate Program Director. Thank DW and tech team for hard look and this presentation. Hard work, challenging questions. Three reactions to presentation today. 1) From advocacy comm, want an QUANTITATIVE analysis ASAP in EAW – even if using existing calculators, even if not as robust as our own developed. Clear about this analysis. Since Daley Farms case- working to comment on EAWs to assure GHG analysis is done for projects with significant emissions even though not CURRENTLY ON EAW. THAT analysis is HAPPENING! MPCA did it for Daley and others. Stillwater did a mixed use development GHG analysis. RGUs are NOT considering GHG – waiting for analysis. Many respects P1 requires less than what RGUs are ALREADY DOING. Already seeing quantitative analysis – better than a qualitative – which would be moving backwards. Guidance for RGUs need to be MORE ROBUST. 2) Recognize existing calculators cannot compute full scope of emissions MN deems relevant. OK for now. Emissions that can’t be included – scope 3 emissions – could be included in qualitative discussion while using existing tools. 3) Touch on question of RGUs being able to use these tools. Stillwater JUST DID A GHG quantification even though no ER for a number of years. Used existing tools. Even RGUs NOT using regularly are able. IMPLEMENT NOW. RGUs START with a quantitative analysis NOW to build knowledge about how to do a GHG analysis and allow community to suggest how analysis can be monitored or improved. Collective process can help us get better and guide tech team on how to construct for and guidance. LOVE the idea of our own tool that fits what we want to do in MN but cannot wait for this tool to exist before quantitative analysis starts. TOO MUCH uncertainty in staffing, funding and time to develop Cannot condition start on quantitative analysis on THIS uncertainty while other states are performing comparable analyses. Understand variability of RGUs using different tools. WE ARE EXPECTING THAT and it’s OK. REALITY in Env Review variability exists! By RGU and by modeling – ALL best estimates. Public understands and accepts this. Not expecting an objective truth. May comment and disagree with assumptions made in model but that is true whether we have a specific of MN or existing tool use. Two shorter points. From public perspective – investment of resources, quantification is important but using staff tools on robust guidance is more effective. Assembling reports – that is the type of public info the public needs, that doesn’t exist, and where we’d like to see staff resources devoted. Support what Denise was mentioning about stakeholder process. System for public to comment – requires a 2-way convo. I’m talking AT you but had a productive convo earlier – asking and getting feedback. Recommendations are better with 2-way with tech team – understanding their barriers – and creating better response based on why they recommend WHAT they recommend. Monthly stakeholder team to discuss? Tech and legal staff devoted to researching this – would like a back and forth convo. SS: Thanks.
Lori Cox: Support of qualitative and quantitative program, particularly with land use and changing ag land uses. If land were previously tilled but NOW wants to be a feed lot – want to see (Ag member of MDA WQ) what is AS-IS state and what would GHG be after… not only for land use – changes – but what else are you mitigating. If tilled 60 years prior – know that GHG – want to know change brought with a feed lot. When project comes, not just changing GHG from Land/animals but also PRACTICES. All affects water, soil, well quality. Water Quality certified farm – always asking how we can do better. Agri-business needs to ask themselves the same. Agree with WIDER stakeholder view. Would not be giving in to any lobby pressure that says “we have to”. MN, Country and Globally – finding BEST PRACTICES that DO WORK, upheld by SCIENTIFIC DATA. Recommend this rigorous process.
Willis: Support previous comments. My primary concern is usable information… UN climate panel said we had 12 years for siginicant change in course on GHG and carbon capture – now 2 years down range and calculator takes 3 years… 7 years for making a difference. Focus on precision rather than moving immediately in a new direction to change trajectory on climate impacts. Emphasis on WRONG PLACE. Doing best we can with what we have and then making better choices. Relevancy of Time and Unless public can put these numbers in context, they are just numbers. 25K, millions over lifetime. Want to reduce. HOW MUCH is ENOUGH? HOW much is enough SOON ENOUGH in a particular sector. Need these frames of reference else public input is crippled. Can’t know if project is begin held accountable for absorption needed. Incorporate recognizable frames of reference to make them meaningful. Is reduction fitting with pace of time scientists say we need. We have statutes but all of us know that statute was best legislature could create but not consistent with science. Need to know what panels of scientists say on pace and quality of reduction in each economic sector. Suggest this is down the line… but if you don’t have these numbers in next 3 years, we will have wasted another 3 years! 5 years seems unacceptable to show public if we’re on track for each project. TIME AND QUANTITY. Feed lots… know world cannot sustain ag animal units around the world. When a feedlot comes fwd – in MN, we have this many animals, increasing over time – consistent with number of animals the planet can support over time? If this is NOT in the frame of reference, we are deceiving the public. They need this frame of reference to be able to effectively participate in the discussion.
Rob Bouta (bowtay): Env consultant – prepped ~100 EAWs over 30 years, City of ? sustainability commission. Agree with MCEA. Costs of developing tool – submit also costs of not developing the tool that are much greater over time as they affect the viability of life on earth. In developing programs, anything the state can do to develop off-the-shelf implementation of mitigation measures would be really helpful to show project performance. How they can do this, working with their projects – necessary. Demo projects may be outside the scope of MEQB but Overland College – generates more energy than it uses. Netherlands developing residential development. Projects waiting for this… no time to wait. Sooner the better in getting this done. Carbon footprint – reference in some materials. EPA calculator – looked at those as I had to respond… EAWs written by consultants, not RGUs generally. I selected one by Conservation Int’l – thought it included all types of C generation (solid waste and air travel) not included in MPCA calculator. MEQB staff can look at this to get in touch with ppl developing calculators to figure HOW to develop for MN. Lots in CA… not readily adaptable to MN as CA uses energy different with their climate.
Chat discussion was also interesting… just me and the host… as it was for every participant?
[So much for engagement…]
Today is a short one. Mostly because the time I have for writing is being consumed by the work of activism. But there was some seemingly good news on the Line 3 front last week.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued a joint statement on Tuesday (6/18/19) to publicly state that the schedule had changed for their permitting work for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3.
While noting that they are committed to their work, they agreed that the Minnesota Court of Appeal’s decision declaring the current Line 3 Environmental Impact Statement inadequate means that they cannot release draft permits and the 401 water quality certification on July 1 as previously scheduled. They MUST wait for the additional PUC environmental analysis before the MPCA/MDNR can initiate their public comment process.
While the exact path of getting to an “adequate” Environmental Impact Statement was not made clear, and while my inquiry to the PUC revealed they do not yet have a plan from the Department of Commerce, the bottom line is that delay is good. The longer we delay, the more people will awaken to the fact that Fossil Fuels are killing the planet. We MUST TRANSITION FROM THEM NOW and continue our progress toward a clean energy economy.
My favorite paragraph in the public notice was this:
“More generally, both agencies will fully review any additional information that becomes available through the PUC’s EIS revision process, including public input to the PUC, prior to making decisions on the pending applications. Neither agency will take final action on the Line 3 Replacement license and permit applications until there is an approved EIS.”MPCA/DNR Joint Statement on Line 3 Decision, my emphasis added
What this seems to indicate to the PUC is that their process must be robust, “including public input to the PUC”, which means that we should again have space to comment on the EIS proposed changes. We will again be able to state if We the People have determined that the supplemental information does indeed make the EIS adequate. Based on past performance, I am not sure this will be as quick or easy a process as Enbridge and their cronies keep saying in the news coverage. I’m pretty sure this one may be the delay that causes Enbridge financiers to perhaps realize their investment in Line 3 is NEVER going to pay off.
Not sure why they haven’t yet determined this. It seems clearer to me each day that the “ole boy” way of doing things, with lots of bribes and payoffs and public deception, is no longer working. There are too many of us watching, waiting to see what happens. Too many digging into the hidden memos, too many researching the science to refute the findings of the corporation, too many sending in public comments that reveal the shortcomings of the work done in collusion with corporations. We are waiting with pens poised to write to the Governor, the Attorney General, our Senators and Representatives, our Facebook Followers, our Blog Readers. Yes, the public has revitalized the idea of civic engagement. And our Young People are once again realizing the only way to make government work for you is to be in its face when it isn’t doing things that actually help YOU. The Tide is Turning.
And there are front line camps waiting too, watching the pre-construction efforts and live streaming their work to assure the public can see what is happening in “Indian Country” – largely where this work is happening now. They will show you a group of a half dozen water protectors holding protest against the Line 3 pre-work. And they will show you the law enforcement that engages them in full riot gear. The visual gives a peek into the astoundingly excessive reaction of law enforcement to citizens in this arena.
This is a war. But it is not to protect We the People. It’s to protect the Corporate interests. And you, dear Taxpayer, are supporting this work.
It’s time to speak up against our law enforcement being used against our fellow citizens who are working to prevent environmental destruction. They are protecting a future for ALL of our children. Please support the citizens standing for climate justice if you can. Click below to learn more.
Anti-colonial Land Defense, Friends of the Headwaters, Ginew, Indigenous Action Media, MN350, Northfield Against Line 3, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, Stop Line 3, and anyone you see taking a stand for our Water.
You want to be on the right side when the tide turns…
Below are my comments to the DNR on their permitting process for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3. Please feel free to submit your own comments via this link. Deadline is May 17th @ 4:30 PM. You can also post comments via mail (postmarked by May 17th) to:
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Line 3 Replacement Applications
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155
I am writing to request that all permits for this deadly pipeline be refused. The very process of submitting public comments itself is daunting, requiring one to select the specific area of concern, which would indicate one was well-versed in the technical breakdowns of the federal and state laws. Why can’t we simply comment on the fact that this pipeline poses an existential threat to life on earth as scientists have clearly stated that TAR SANDS MUST STAY IN THE GROUND if we hope to have A VIABLE PLANET FOR HUMAN EXISTENCE??? Yes, locally, the spills it has, which we know it will – ALL PIPELINES LEAK – will endanger our water. Yes, we know it is a violation of Treaty Law – the highest law of the land – as it endangers their traditional way of life from worship to sustenance to livelihood. The pipeline is already creating havoc in the environment – that Indigenous people maintained for millennia and we colonists have largely destroyed in only a couple centuries – as trees are clearcut for the new corridor.
And this constant assumption by Enbridge that they will get their way – pipes are staged throughout the region and clear cutting has begun even before the DNR or MPCA have given their approvals – is just another devastating effect on the people and environment of this proposed Line 3. The hurt has been ongoing for years now. PLEASE STOP this ASAP with a denial of all permits. Enbridge’s desecration of Minnesota must STOP.
The very process of DNR’s public information campaign – with webinars only provided days before comment periods close – seems geared to not include real debate and discussion at the citizen level. And it seems the agency may be poised to simply rubber-stamp the permits for fear that “Enbridge will sue” if they do not. When did Enbridge become the sole decider for Minnesota’s future? A foreign oil corporation that is rapidly losing financial backers, has a horrible safety record, and currently operates a deteriorating pipeline that Minnesotans live in daily fear of rupturing should be determining what we allow in our state? REALLY???
It is time for thoughtful and SCIENTIFIC consideration of this situation. And if we do that, the answer will be to tell Enbridge to go packing.
Science has shown that we have a decade to determine if humans will work with an Apollo-program or WWII level of dedication to save our planet, or if we will continue with business as usual and drive ourselves into extinction, as we have driven countless millions into extinction before us. Yes, extinction happens naturally, but the human involvement with this planet has created a thousand-fold increase in extinction rates and we are now closing in on assuring our own extinction.
Enbridge has made clear that safety is not its #1 goal. Making money is its #1 goal. Their massive failure in Marshall, MI should be a sign to Minnesota that they cannot be trusted. They failed to act when the alarms sounded, assumed them to be false, allowed a huge failure to continue long after people on the ground had reported it. Then, post failure, they did all they could to cover up damaged areas, only doing a more complete clean-up when ordered to do so after being found to have done an insufficient job. Is this REALLY the company to whom we want to risk the last of Minnesota’s clean waters?
Line 3 proposes to cross the apex between two major North American watersheds, pristine national forest land as well as countless rivers, streams, and wetlands in Minnesota. In short, Line 3 risks contaminating the water for our whole region – the water which makes life in this region possible – with toxic tar sands sludge. Line 3 brings a host of other risks to our public lands including but not limited to: soil erosion and degradation, spread of undesirable species and disease through waterways, and damage to sensitive ecosystems and species. And finally, they continue the practices of giving the worst of our industrial dangers to the most oppressed and disenfranchised among us, our First People, our Indigenous. The US has failed time and again to honor Treaties, the highest law of the land – on a level with the US Constitution. It is high time we factor in the agreements we made to those who allowed us to share their land, usually agreeing only with force from the government which offered them no alternative. It is time we honor the people who showed they have an ability to protect the land, water, trees, wildlife, and plants for millennia. We should look to them for guidance on how to truly protect and manage our environment for sustainability. Our governmental agencies have failed us again and again in this effort. In case you need a refresher, look to the 1970s when we made massive changes to clean up the environment we had largely pillaged due to allowing corporate and monied interests to rape our environment at will.
I am writing to urge you to deny Enbridge its Utility Crossing Licenses, Work in Public Waters Permits, and all other permits currently under review. As the DNR, it is up to you to protect the pristine public lands, waters, and wildlife upon which all life and livelihood in this state depends. I urge you to see that Enbridge would only jeopardize all of that, and make the right decision not to grant them the necessary permits.
We need your strong leadership in your true charge: The mission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is to work with citizens to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life. The citizens have spoken loudly and clearly – 94% of the public comments were in opposition to Line 3 – and we continue to try to voice concerns but the government agencies seem geared to simply push through Line 3 and allow Enbridge whatever they wish. As I read the definition for the DNR Commissioner, it seems we may be in trouble. Per 84.027, “The commissioner shall have charge and control of all the public lands, parks, timber, waters, minerals, and wild animals of the state and of the use, sale, leasing, or other disposition thereof, and of all records pertaining to the performance of the commissioner’s functions relating thereto.” This sounds like the Commissioner is merely in charge of selling off Minnesota’s resources and keeping record of who gets the spoils.
I have imagined that most Minnesotans believe the DNR is responsible to protect the citizens and environment of Minnesota, though many up here in rural Minnesota seems to have a negative opinion of the DNR. Perhaps I have judged them too harshly for their condemnation. Perhaps the DNR has given them much reason for distrust as the directive for the Commissioner does not seem to have any responsibility to the citizens or environment of this state. It seems the directive is to “manage” the use of our resources and, based on what I’ve seen since moving here, it seems the highest bidder gets to decide who wins.
I would hope that the People of the DNR would prevent a multi-national from running roughshod over our state and, in the process, doing further environmental damage to our planet as a whole. The science on Tar Sands is clear – they require almost as much energy to extract as they deliver for use, they are damaging the environment where they are extracted and the environment all along the route to move them to their offshore destinations – including the oceans and air, as well as the lands and waters that are crossed – only to be burned releasing 17% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude. The answers are clear to me. YOU ARE SCIENTISTS. You must stand with the tens of thousands of Minnesotans opposed to line 3 and STOP LINE 3 NOW. We are all human beings. If we hope to save ourselves, putting our planet first must be a priority.
Your work to Stop Line 3 NOW could save thousands of taxpayer dollars that have been wasted thus far on the Enbridge proposal and instead divert these much-needed funds to creating a green economy, a clean energy future, that might just allow our grandkids the same breathable air and drinkable water we have enjoyed.
Please do the right thing. Do all you can to DENY ALL PERMITS for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3. The future is counting on you.