Enbridge now has both of the major Minnesota permits it needs for a new Line 3. A public input process for the US Army Corps permits is expected soon, along with a number of other minor permits from MN state agencies. Once those are issued, unless one of the pending or forthcoming lawsuits wins an injunction to halt construction, digging and clearcutting can begin.
Even though no permits have yet been issued for Line 3, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have already been tracking water protectors’ activities, sharing information, and making preparations to respond to heightened Line 3 resistance for a long time now. Enbridge has agreed to pay for any costs they incur responding to social unrest during construction.
Today, tribes and environmental groups filed 3 separate lawsuits against the MN Public Utilities Commission (PUC), challenging the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared for the proposed new Line 3 pipeline. All three lawsuits ask the Minnesota Court of Appeals to overturn the PUC’s May 2018 decision that found the EIS “adequate.” A reversal of that decision would undermine the PUC's approval of the project in late June, which the EIS was used to inform.
On Thursday, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa announced it is “willing to consider an agreement with Enbridge” that would allow construction of the new Line 3 on its reservation. The next day, the Band said their position is being misunderstood. Minnesota’s approval of the project has put the Band in an impossible situation, giving it 60 days to decide the exact route of the pipeline through its 1854 ceded territory. It now faces a choice between one pipeline corridor or two - between expanding one of the 6 lines they already have, or clear-cutting a new corridor where no line has ever been before.
Today, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the new Line 3 pipeline, in Enbridge's preferred new route. They opened up a brand new energy corridor through the lakes, wild rice beds of the North, the heart of Ojibwe treaty territories, and the ancestral homelands of the Oceti Sakowin. “You have declared war on the Ojibwe people!",” said one Ogichidaakwe.
Yesterday, Friday, June 22, Enbridge submitted a document to the Line 3 docket outlining the 5 last-minute promises they’ve made recently, in desperate attempts to push the PUC to approve their proposed new corridor. In that document, they propose a “Landowner Choice Program” to determine where to remove the old Line 3 pipeline. Deep in the document, Enbridge says they plan to offer each landowner money to let them leave the corroded, leaky pipe in the ground.
This week, the MN Public Utilities Commission began its final meetings to decide the fate of Enbridge’s proposed new Line 3. On Monday, each intervening party gave 10 minutes of oral argument, and on Tuesday, the Commissioners asked questions of the parties and discussed details. Several different commissioners indicated that they had not yet made a decision on Line 3 and didn’t know what to do. Enbridge kicked things off with a last ditch effort to sweeten the deal by making 3 new promises. These desperate pleas follow two similar last-minute announcements made earlier this month.
Today, Honor the Earth is launching a “Welcome Water Protectors” campaign across Northern Minnesota. Two billboards have been unveiled along the proposed new Line 3 route, a new cultural camp is now open, and “water-protector-friendly” stickers are going up at local businesses. Water protectors and allies are arriving for the summer as all sides await the State of Minnesota's final permit decision on June 27th.
Honor the Earth has also produced these Water Protector stickers and is distributing them free of charge to area businesses who wish to welcome visitors and show support for those protecting Minnesota's waters.
This is the 60-second TV commercial airing tonight for the first time on Duluth KBJR at 6pm. Landowners along the proposed new Enbridge corridor are speaking out and saying NO to a new Line 3!
Last week, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco announced two major new commitments as part of their desperate, last-minute attempt to push the PUC to approve Line 3 . First, Enbridge is now offering to remove the old Line 3 pipeline after it builds a new one, wherever landowners want that Second, Enbridge will “encourage” the Line 3 contractors they hire to spend at least $100 million on American Indian subcontractors or employees. This is part of an aggressive media campaign in response to the recent Judge’s report concluding that the state should deny the proposed new corridor. Meanwhile, opposition to the project continues to grow and escalate.
More than 500 spiritual leaders of different faith traditions in Minnesota have signed a letter to the Public Utilities Commission asking them to reject the permits for a Line 3 pipeline “because of the harm it would do to the Anishinaabe people.” On June 4, more than a hundred people gathered at the Capitol in St. Paul and marched to deliver the letter to the PUC and Governor Mark Dayton.
During Minnesota’s legislative session this spring, the GOP-controlled legislature passed a law giving Enbridge the green light to build the new Line 3 pipeline. This “fast-track” bill would have ignored and bypassed 5 years of regulatory process that is scheduled to finish in just a few weeks. But Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the bill, along with many others, including two bills specifically designed to suppress dissent and attack grassroots social movements.
On May 15, a Minnesota Tax Court judge finally ruled on Enbridge’s lawsuit against the State of Minnesota, agreeing with the company that the state has been grossly overvaluing the Enbridge oil pipeline system - in some years, by billions of dollars. Enbridge claims that the MN Department of Revenue’s property tax assessments of Enbridge’s Mainline system have been too high for the past 6 years. They say the State owes them about $55 million in refunds. In his ruling, the judge did not determine exact amounts, but largely agreed with Enbridge.
The 1855 Treaty Authority has authorized a one day FISH OFF Reservation at Lake Bemidji, the day before Minnesota State fishing opener. The 1855 Treaty Authority opened a similar season the day before Minnesota State fishing opener in 2010. The FISH OFF 2018 Reunion treaty rights rally is in Bemidji because of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline abandonment plans and new route project through new wild rice lakes, rivers and aquifers mostly in the 1855 territory. “Leaders like Flat Mouth understood we too would do our best to protect our rights and resources for the next generations,” said Frank Bibeau, Executive Director for the 1855 Treaty Authority. The one day season is open from 10AM to 2PM, tribal members ID cards are the permit and you may use any method to take fish including fishing pole, net and spear.
On April 23, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for Minnesota’s review of the proposed Line 3 replacement pipeline, Ann O’Reilley, issued her final report. In 400+ pages and 2500+ footnotes, the report summarizes almost 5 years of regulatory process and several mountains of evidence, with legal conclusions on how the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) should interpret the relevant laws to make a permit decision. And what a conclusion it is! ALJ O’Reilley says the PUC should APPROVE a new pipeline but DENY Enbridge’s proposed new route, and instead require them to remove existing line 3 and replace it “in-trench.” So what does this mean, and what happens next? After a couple of weeks of letting the dust settle, we now offer our thoughts: In short, this is both an enormous victory and a huge loss at the same time…and it creates a total mess.