For Immediate Release June 1st 2015
White Earth Band of Ojibwe and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe hold public hearings on proposed Enbridge Sandpiper and Line 3 Pipelines
This week, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe will hold official tribal hearings on the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline corridor, which would cross through the wild rice areas used by the Anishinaabeg of this region. The White Earth hearing will be Thursday, June 4, at 5:00pm, at the Rice Lake Community Center (off Highway 4, Clearwater County). The Mille Lacs hearing will be on Friday, June 5, at 10:00am, at the East Lake Community Center (off Highway 65, south of McGregor).
“The White Earth band had formally asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to hold a hearing on the reservation, and no hearing was held,” Joe Plummer, General Counsel for the White Earth reservation explained. “ We are holding our own evidentiary hearing to allow for the tribal members who will be most impacted by the proposed Enbridge pipeline corridor to be able to testify. State hearings fifty miles away from a community, in the dead of winter, and on short notice, did not constitute consultation.”
Mille Lacs band Chairwoman Melanie Benjamin also expressed similar concerns: “ To date, government to government consultation required between state agencies and Indian Tribes in accordance with Governor Dayton’s Executive Order l3-l0 has not occurred on this matter, nor was there any mechanism for consultation in Administrative Law Judge Lipman’s hearing process.” Chairwoman Benjamin wrote in a May 27 letter to the PUC and Governor Dayton: “There has been no consultation with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (or any other tribal government) and the Minnesota PUC , nor has Enbridge consulted with the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe….” .
Among those experts who will testify is Emma Lockridge, resident of the neighborhood adjacent to the Marathon Oil Refinery in Detroit, Michigan. This refinery is the destination of some of the oil which would come through the proposed lines, and Marathon is a 37% owner of the proposed Sandpiper, as well as an “anchor shipper”. “I mean, it has always been bad, but not this bad,” The air is just unbearable. It’s like living inside a refinery,” Lockridge told a reporter.
Lockridge was raised in the neighborhood of Boynton, in southwest Detroit’s 48217, an area commonly known as Michigan’s most polluted zip code. Smoke pouring out of the stacks at the Marathon refinery and fumes wafting overhead from neighboring salt, asphalt, and coal plants have long formed the backdrop of everyday life in 48217. Residents of this primarily African-American community have been mobilizing for a healthier environment for years. Lockridge joined this struggle about two years ago, when she began having difficulties breathing at night. This was about the same time that the adjacent Marathon refinery began processing dilbit from the Alberta Tar Sands. In late 2012, the Detroit Marathon refinery completed a $2.2 billion upgrade to its facilities in order to process an additional 28,000 barrels of dilbit per day. Lockridge will be testifying at both tribal hearings this week, along with additional witnesses from outside the community and numerous community members.
The Enbridge energy corridor proposed would transect the watersheds of Rice Lake on the White Earth reservation and the Rice Lake and Sandy Lake territories of the East Lake community of Mille Lacs reservation. At present, two lines are proposed, including approximately l.4 million barrels of oil. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is expected to adopt the recommendations of PUC Administrative Judge Eric Lipman on June 5, without consultation with the tribal governments or adequate environmental review as required by Minnesota Law. That recommendation is to grant a Certificate of Need for the Enbridge Sandpiper Proposal, as a needed public utility, and accord the company the privilege of eminent domain.
The two tribal hearings this week represent unusual instances of tribal intervention and mark the beginning of what will likely become a long, protracted, and complex legal and regulatory struggle between the state of Minnesota, the tribes, and the federal government.
For more information contact Thane Maxwell at firstname.lastname@example.org, 612-900-5108, or Winona LaDuke at email@example.com