The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, a group of five appointed people, all white and all nonresidents of northern Minnesota, will be deciding for northern landowners, native tribes and all Minnesotans whether we are to have an environmentally dangerous, foreign-owned pipeline (Line 3) going through our land, wilderness and waters. It will be deciding whether there is more benefit in having a Canadian company profit from a pipeline that will steal our land, cut down our forests and likely pollute our remaining clean waters in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, or to reject that application by Enbridge, a for-profit Canadian company, and stand to protect our sustainable natural resources (wilderness, wild rice and water). A granting of the permit would continue a centuries-long persecution of the indigenous population and culture. The decision is expected this summer.
I am a landowner and resident in Carlton County along Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 route. I do not give my permission. I do not wish to sell an easement that in essence is a forced sale of my land in perpetuity to a Canadian company that is willing to pollute my treasured wilderness for short-term profit. I am proud to say that I stand with Friends of the Headwaters and the native tribes, and they stand with me in opposition to this attack on their sovereignty and my rights as a landowner. If the PUC approves this application, Enbridge will sue me over eminent domain. This is not rightfully an application of eminent domain; Enbridge is not a public utility. Minnesota is merely a channel for oil to pass through. I will fight this as long as I can.
David L. Johnson, Kalevala Township, Carlton County
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A March 22 letter on Enbridge’s lobbying expenses requires additional clarification.
In its filing with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board in March, Enbridge reported lobbying expenses in 2017 of about $5.3 million.
Under the laws of Minnesota, legal representation and other support related to matters before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission are considered lobbying activities and must be reported as such. In 2017, more than 95 percent of what qualifies as lobbying expenses in Minnesota was incurred as a result of direct support of matters pending before the PUC.
For Enbridge, this includes legal and other support for the operation of our existing pipeline systems in Minnesota and for the Line 3 replacement project. Last year alone, there were 40 public meetings across that state and three weeks of hearings that were conducted as part of the thorough regulatory review process for the project. The expenses incurred by the company related to these meetings and hearings are part of total lobbying expenses that were reported.
Less than 5 percent of Enbridge’s reported lobbying expenses in 2017 were spent on what most people would consider traditional lobbying — government-relations activities related to legislative and/or administrative issues.
Enbridge has and will continue to communicate openly with all Minnesotans to ensure that they have information about our company and the Line 3 project, and that they are able to participate in the regulatory process.
It’s important that Minnesotans know about the measures we are taking to protect Minnesota communities and the environment by replacing Line 3 with a new, modern pipeline. This is an important safety project with the protection of the environment and the community at the center of its design.
Peter Holran, Washington, D.C.
The writer is director of state government affairs for Enbridge.
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It’s been written that the person who can see both sides of a conflict doesn’t have income tied up in one side or the other. The Duluth author of the March 24 letter “Enbridge truly cares about Minnesota landowners,” as the manager of land services for the Line 3 project, obviously has income involved. As with most corporations, Enbridge will act like it cares about others as long as it doesn’t impede the bottom line.
The Enbridge pipeline may have been an asset in the past. The real issue now, and in the future, is not how much Enbridge cares. The real issue is what the pipeline will carry, which is the dirtiest oil in the world. According to a recent Minnesota Public Radio story, the amount of oil shipped through the pipeline would be comparable to putting 12 coal-fired power plants in operation.
Do the names Harvey, Irma, Marie, Nate, Sandy, Katrina and Ophelia mean anything to you? Do the fires in California and western Canada make you pause and think? What about the increased number, size and severity of tornadoes in the U.S.? Because these weather-related events either don’t happen, or only happen occasionally in our state, doesn’t mean we should ignore the implications.
Some people in this state want to narrow the focus to the positive economic outcomes of the pipeline. What about the negative economic consequences of weather-related catastrophes? Even if this region doesn’t currently have to deal with events other regions do, we’re all going to pay heavily if we don’t make changes.
We as a state, a nation and a world need to get out of the fossil-fuel business. Building another pipeline does nothing but increase and sustain the problems that will devastate our planet.
For many of us, our language and ways of thinking are not suited for dealing with problems on the magnitude of global warming. Our cultural tools were developed for local and regional problems, not global-scale catastrophes. That needs to change.
Gary Burt, Marble, Minn.
Won’t work without parking, setbacks and larger lots
I have been reading with interest about the proposal for allowing fourplexes throughout Minneapolis. I grew up in a neighborhood where there were many among the single-family homes and duplexes, and they were just part of the fabric. One feature they have that is lacking in the current proposal is at least one parking space for each unit; another is that most were built on lots wider than 40 feet. My daughter lived for a time in south Minneapolis, where many buildings had fewer than one parking space for each unit (or sometimes none at all). Parking was a nightmare and dealing with it made life difficult, especially in winter when the many cars had to compete with snowbanks and residents had to shuffle cars during snow emergencies. Lack of parking pitted renters against homeowners, who never had space for guests or service people to put their vehicles.
While the desire for more-dense, and therefore theoretically more affordable, housing is admirable, to pretend that Minneapolis residents do not own and depend on automobiles is just silly and shortsighted, especially in areas where parking is already restricted due to traffic, like along Lyndale Avenue in southwest Minneapolis. If you want fourplexes to be accepted, off-street parking, setback restrictions and probably expanded lot sizes will be necessary.
Sue Sherek, Fridley
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Having moved here from Jersey five years ago, I loved the March 30 letter in opposition to fourplexes that compared Minneapolis and East Coast cities. But here’s the thing: Minneapolis desperately needs affordable housing, which row houses in South Philly provide and which fourplexes in Minneapolis could provide. And even Philly isn’t all South Philly row houses. A great city needs a diversity of housing options. Yes, lift restrictions on fourplexes along streets near good public transit, but also provide neighborhoods of starter homes for young families who want to make a commitment to the city by moving from rental housing to their own home. Otherwise when families outgrow their rental unit in a fourplex, they’ll be headed to Wisconsin in search of affordable housing.
Allan Campbell, Minneapolis