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war on the environment

The fine mess that Enbridge Line 3 has become

by Dan Burns on April 30, 2018 · 1 comment

enbridge2The saga of the highly controversial Enbridge Line 3 replacement/rerouting proposal took another turn last week.

Administrative law judge Ann O’Reilly issued a non-binding recommendation on (April 23) that Minnesota regulators should approve the pipeline, but only if it runs along the current route and not Enbridge Energy’s preferred new path.

– Also from that article, Gov. Mark Dayton says that is not feasible. (Dayton is not opposed to the project. Though he has, bless his heart, said he’ll veto a bill from the GOP-controlled Minnesota legislature that would allow Enbridge to basically bypass the rest of the review process and start whenever they want to.)

– The ruling would likely strengthen the positions of affected Native Americans.

– Enbridge very much wants to stick with its plan.

So we’ll see.
Comment below fold.

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trumpA pretty inept, sorry way of fighting on behalf of American workers.

President Trump’s budget slashes investment in clean energy — the biggest new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the world.
In contrast, China’s latest five-year energy budget invests $360 billion in renewable generation alone by 2020. Beijing calculates the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.”
Trump’s self-proclaimed “America First” budget released (March 16) zeroes out key Department of Energy (DOE) clean-tech programs:
– the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which invests in innovative clean technology
– a program to improve manufacturing for clean cars, and
– the loan guarantee program, which jump-started large-scale U.S. solar deployment, the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, and companies like Tesla.
(Think Progress)

Comment below fold.

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amd_300(Update 2: Thrilled to have been wrong! We got the veto.)
(Update: Looks like we won’t get that veto. Damn. Governor Dayton’s explanation, and I suppose that it does make some sense, is included in this MPR article.)
This passed the DFL-controlled Senate 35-30. What a load.

“No one should be under the impression that this buffer law will clean up our waters,” said (MEP Executive Director Steve) Morse. “It is significantly weakened from the Governor’s proposal. While it will have a modest positive impact, the waters of Southwestern Minnesota will remain unswimable and undrinkable. We have a long way to go to making the transformative change that the Governor envisions.”
…Raiding Dedicated Environmental Funds: Even with $1 billion on the bottom line, this bill raids funds that are to prevent old landfills from contaminating our groundwater and surface water and clean up the pollution where it occurs…
Surprise Sulfide Mining Amendment: The bill exempts sulfide mining waste from solid waste rules. This amendment was never introduced as a bill or heard in any committee, and its future effect is unknown. Exempting as-of-yet unknown waste streams from potential sulfide mines is an unnecessary risk to water quality and public health…
Polluter Amnesty: A polluter amnesty provision delays enforcement and waives penalties for regulated parties that self-report violations of environmental regulations. This provision needlessly strips the MPCA of its powers to hold polluters accountable for protecting our natural resources.
(Minnesota Environmental Partnership)

I’m not suggesting that online petitions suffice to change the world. But they certainly don’t hurt (just to cite one example, a lot of sane and rational federal judges were able to be confirmed, last year, largely because of online activism), and you can let Governor Mark Dayton know, here, that you’re with him, should he choose to veto this contemptible travesty.

In a related move – MN Auditor Rebecca Otto dared to suggest that Big Mining be required to put down some sort of legitimate surety, before poisoning Minnesota’s water – we had this.

DFL State Auditor Rebecca Otto is hoping Gov. Mark Dayton vetoes the state government finance bill that House and Senate leaders negotiated in the closing hours of the 2015 session.
Otto objects to language in the bill from House Republicans that would allow county officials to bypass her office and get audits from the private sector…
Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said the privatization of audits would be “like the fox guarding the chicken coop.”


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Enbridge risking disaster up on the border

by Dan Burns on September 3, 2014 · 0 comments

imagesCA2I186XI wrote before about Enbridge’s activities in Minnesota, here.


Enbridge has been trying since 2012 to get a presidential permit to expand the Alberta Clipper from its current permitted capacity of 450,000 barrels per day to 800,000 barrels per day.
Thanks in large part to our public pressure, activists have stalled approvals for this tar sands project and others, like the Keystone XL pipeline. So Enbridge concocted a dangerous scheme that essentially amounts to smuggling to get their filthy product across the border.
Instead of carrying tar sands across the border on the Clipper pipeline directly, Enbridge is diverting the tar sands flow to an adjacent 47-year-old pipeline, where it will travel 20 miles across the US border into Minnesota, then back to the Clipper pipeline. Disturbingly, the aging “Line 3” was not designed to carry toxic and corrosive tar sands crude, yet would be operating at more than double its current capacity.
Yes, this is a proven recipe for disaster: The 2013 Mayflower Arkansas spill was caused by a rupture of the similarly aging Pegasus pipeline, which had been also co-opted to carry tar sands crude.

The Star Tribune confirmed all of this, albeit of course in a much more rhetorically meek way, here.
It looks more and more as if Enbridge isn’t any better than TransCanada (I don’t type that lightly), and deserves similar levels of public scrutiny and pressure.
The image is from the Mayflower spill, via


TPP talks are stumbling

by Dan Burns on March 5, 2014 · 1 comment

1526506_10202112061819712_1216897331_nPerhaps somewhat overlooked in reporting about the TPP, and about backers’ desire to power-slam it through Congress by any means, is that the negotiations themselves are far from all amity and sunshine, apparently due to resistance to U.S. corporate bullying. From Feb. 25:

Another high-level Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting has fizzled with no deal. The talks have missed a succession of deadlines due to opposition from negotiating countries to corporate-backed U.S. demands that would increase the cost of medicines, restrict financial stability measures, and empower corporations to challenge health and environmental safeguards. Back at home, the administration’s attempt to Fast Track the TPP through Congress suffers from overwhelming congressional and public opposition.
Facing international and domestic resistance, and having already missed deadlines to seal a deal last October and December, TPP trade ministers refrained from naming another deadline after finishing negotiations in Singapore today, stating only that they hope for a deal “as soon as possible.”
Public Citizen

This, from Common Dreams, is about the all but complete news blackout on the TPP from American corporate media. Now, why do you suppose that those paragons of relevant, unbiased, fact-based journalism would be doing a thing like that?

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How we can all pay even more for gasoline

by Dan Burns on July 26, 2013 · 1 comment

air-pollution-2This has been noted here, and in many other places, before, but a lot of people still seem unaware, so it requires frequent reiteration. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension, if completed, is projected to cause a substantial increase in the average U.S. price for gasoline. Especially in the Midwest.

U.S. drivers would be forced to pay higher prices for tar sands oil, particularly in the Midwest. There, gasoline costs could rise by 20 cents to 40 cents per gallon or more, based on the $20 to $30 per barrel discount on Canadian crude oil that Keystone XL developers seek to erase. Such an increase, just in the Midwest, could cost the U.S. economy $3 billion to $4 billion a year in consumer income that would not be spent more productively elsewhere.

Also, regarding an “underappreciated,” environmentally devastating byproduct of refining tar sands oil:

There are many reasons that the Keystone XL pipeline will clearly exacerbate the problem of climate pollution … but one that is often overlooked (at our peril) is the problem of petroleum coke a.k.a. “petcoke.” Petcoke is a refining byproduct of tar sands oil, and when burned is substantially dirtier than coal and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas pollution…with enough petcoke to add emissions equivalent to 3.5 million additional cars each year, the question of whether Keystone XL’s climate impact is “significant” becomes an easy one to answer.

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water-pollution-9192106As you’ve probably seen, Gogebic Taconite brought in armed guards, done up like paramilitaries, to the site of a proposed iron mine in Wisconsin. The guards have since been pulled, as they weren’t properly licensed to work in Wisconsin. As far as I could find out, as of this morning, they’re not back. It’s unclear whether licensing issues are entirely the reason for that, or whether the publicity may also have caused Gogebic to rethink its approach.

There are proposals for two big mines in northern Minnesota. Those opposed to them, especially in other parts of the state like the metro and therefore well away from the action, should not underestimate how close these projects are to getting underway. About the only thing that really seems to be holding them back are questions about whether they will be profitable for their investors, given declining prices for their planned output.

Could we see troops of masked, camouflaged guards here in Minnesota? Discussion, below the fold.


thidI4516115766313161pid1If they can. Here’s the deal. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) straddles part of the Minnesota/Ontario border. What with not being so much the trekking, camping type, I haven’t been there, but knowledgeable sources tell me that it is quite literally heaven on earth. Spectacular and powerful.
A corporate entity called Twin Metals Minnesota wants to dig and operate a big mine, for copper, nickel and whatever else turns up, right about where the South Kawishiwi River connects with the BWCA. (Here’s a PDF map; we’re talking about the one that says “Duluth Metals.“ More about the various corporate tentacles involved, below.) The project has the (almost giddy) support of many of the state’s top elected officials, which in Minnesota right now means Democrats, who have been seduced by the siren call of purported jobs and “economic development.”
Here are the two main issues:
– Can this mine happen without serious, long-term environmental damage? There is every reason to be exceedingly doubtful, as a project of this nature has never happened before, without negative environmental consequences.
– There is also little reason to be confident that it will be all that great for the area’s economy, to say the least. Frankly, quite the contrary.
In the past, I’ve been skeptical, including on this blog, that this project will really happen. I believed that the investor/shareholder “benefit” in “cost/benefit” would be determined not to be there. I was wrong. This is very serious.


thidI4516115766313161pid1The prominent advocacy organization American Rivers just named the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to its “Most Endangered” list for 2013.

The Boundary Waters is threatened by a proposed copper nickel mine near the South Kawishiwi River, a popular entry point to the Boundary Waters wilderness area and a source of drinking water for Minnesota residents and visitors. The mine, proposed within the Superior National Forest and just outside the wilderness area, would produce large quantities of waste rock, sulfuric acid, and a variety of toxic metals. Polluted runoff from the mine poses a public health concern because of fish and drinking water contamination and threatens the Boundary Waters ecosystem…
“The Boundary Waters is a unique and beloved wilderness of lakes of rivers,” said Betsy Daub, policy director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. “The region should not be a guinea pig for risky new mines, which have never before operated without causing serious water pollution.”
(Mining Truth)



smokestacksThese sorts of votes are basically political stunts, in this case sucking up to Big Filthy Fossil Fuels. This one is nonetheless butt-ugly.


The vote was non-binding but all too telling. On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted 62 to 37 in favor of building the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, with 17 Democrats joining all of the Republicans. It was just an amendment to a budget plan that won’t even be going to the president’s desk, but it shows that the political class in D.C. views the pipeline very favorably — and believes voters view it very favorably too…


The Keystone decision still ultimately rests with President Obama, who appears to be dithering — and procrastinating like mad.




Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken both righteously voted “nay.”


I had been unaware that polls show strong public support for this wretched travesty. Of course corporate media hasn’t been highlighting how the pipeline will raise gas prices in the Midwest, on purpose. Or that it will in fact produce only a miniscule quantity of permanent jobs in the U.S. Or anything else that doesn’t carry Big Dirty Energy’s stamp of approval.