Photo By Rob Wilson Photography
On March 15, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) met to decide if the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Line 3 was adequate or not, after being revised this winter. The PUC found the EIS inadequate in December, and listed four deficiencies, which they gave the Department of Commerce 60 days to fix. The Environmental Impact Statement is a document which contains information about ways a pipeline or any other project could possibly impact the environment. It is a tool for decision making.
In January, the five Ojibwe tribes intervening filed an appeal to the Public Utilities Commission’s recent decision to exclude the cultural resource survey from the Environmental Impact Statement. That appeal was denied by the Public Utilities Commission on February 22. The tribal communities that will be affected by this pipeline agree that the FEIS needs to have more information involved in the document about the impacts it will have on their communities before it is deemed adequate.
Last Thursday, the PUC held a meeting that was open to the public, to announce their decision to deem the EIS adequate or not. During that meeting, the Sierra Club, Honor The Earth, Youth Climate Interveners, and the 5 tribes that are intervening all spoke out, stating that the FEIS should be deemed inadequate until data from the ongoing cultural resource survey led by the Fond du lac Band is added to the EIS. So many people showed up to listen in on the meeting that two overflow rooms had to be used to hold everybody, although public comments were not allowed. There were many supporters and many non-supporters of the proposed pipeline project in attendance. Enbridge bussed in their workers from Duluth to attend the meeting, and also held a rally in support of the construction of the pipeline before the meeting. Meanwhile indigenous elders prepared a wild rice breakfast with frybread, which was placed outside the meeting room for all people in attendance which was eaten by both supporters and non-supporters. The breakfast; wild rice is one of the grains that could potentially be harmed by the proposed project.
The meeting lasted from 9:30AM to 2PM. After a long day of the intervening parties arguing over the adequacy of the EIS, the commissioners all agreed that the EIS gives them all the information they need to make their decisions.
The report and recommendation from the Administrative Law Judge, Ann O'Reilley, is expected on April 23, and a final PUC permit decision is expected this summer.
Intervening parties have said previously that they would consider a lawsuit to appeal this EIS approval decision.
Written by Rose Whipple
Rose, 17 years old from the Santee Dakota and Ho-Chunk nations is one of the 13 Youth Climate Intervenors whom were granted legal standing as an official intervening party in the Line 3 pipeline case, she is also one of the indigenous youth that have been working on the line 3 campaign for the past year.