The tribal liaison for the environmental review of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline has resigned to protest of the state of Minnesota’s “failure to engage in meaningful and transparent tribal consultation” with impacted communities of the 1855 treaty territory.
Perhaps out of fear of “another Standing Rock”, the Minnesota Department of Commerce hired Danielle Oxendine Molliver as a tribal liaison in March 2017, though proceedings for the EIS began over a year ago in the spring of 2016.
In an interview with The Intercept, Danielle Oxendine Molliver reported that her role as a tribal liaison was consistently undermined. On one occasion, Enbridge complained to the governor’s office that she appeared “too sympathetic” to tribal communities. After that, Oxendine Molliver was instructed to refrain from publicly answering questions about pipeline impacts, and instead told to direct meeting attendees to the coffee and cookies. During the drafting of the EIS, her superiors at the Department of Commerce repeatedly misrepresented, dismissed, or flat out ignored important issues she brought from tribal members.
On July 24th, Oxendine Molliver sent a resignation letter stating, “There are a multitude of reasons why I have come to this decision. The single most important one is the failure of the state of Minnesota to fulfill its obligations of good faith and fair dealing with the tribes in connection with the Line 3 project.”
She added “The Department of Commerce has not fulfilled its public duty to act in a fair, genuine, professional, respectful, or transparent manner as required … I feel as though my resignation is the only option to maintain my integrity, commitment, and standing with the tribal communities as both a liaison and indigenous woman.”
Despite her resignation, the Final EIS for Line 3 is forging ahead with no clear plan for tribal consultation, though the Department of Commerce has now publicly submitted testimony opposing the construction of a new pipeline corridor. Construction has already begun without Free, Prior and Informed consent in Canada, and in Wisconsin water protectors have shut down work on six occasions.