We have all heard the saying a number of times: “you get what you deserve.” This week Minnesotans deserved much more than they got from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as well as the Department of Commerce (DOC).
It’s also important to know professional protesters ARE coming here to try to bully, disrupt, and threaten. They will do anything they can to stop a process because their agenda and backers disagree with the outcome. They do not represent who we are and what Minnesota believes.
The PUC is responsible for holding and managing meetings for projects like Line 3. These meetings are important and designed to let all parties work through details of things like the certificate of need and other issues. They give people a chance to share information and for commissioners to ask questions.
There are rules and a process Minnesota has created to make sure companies know what’s expected of them and to let others raise concerns. Working through this is how Minnesota works together, even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree.
Yet this week the PUC and the DOC (for different reasons) clearly failed to do its job. They did not make good on their responsibility to serve Minnesotans. Their lack of planning and ignoring the well-established intensity of the Line 3 process allowed a small group of people, most not from Minnesota, to take over a meeting.
The “activists” were allowed to bring a boom box and a bullhorn into a public meeting/conference room – how does that happen? No one was screened and while there was security in the room, no one did anything when the group threatened the PUC Commissioners and Line 3 supporters.
The PUC commissioners left the room. The professional activists declared victory when the rest of the meeting was cancelled. The out-of-towners bragged about it on Facebook after they forced the meeting to be stopped.
The DOC on the other hand, knowing that this meeting was scheduled, made a conscious choice NOT to review and prepare for the meeting. They were on the agenda to talk about the Certificate of Need permit stipulations and Enbridge’s responses to determine if the company has complied as ordered. DOC staff decided not to review the information. They clearly failed to do their job.
Minnesota is clearly better than this and deserves better from people in charge.
The PUC’s failure to make sure the process worked created national headlines driven by bad acts from people NOT from Minnesota who clearly do not accept an outcome they disagree with. Letting a small group get away with stopping this meeting is embarrassing and makes holding the next meeting a bigger challenge.
One other thing worth noting is when out of curiosity, I attended the first (round 2) public hearing for the Keystone pipeline project (KXL) a couple years ago in York, NE. This is a small town and they knew KXL was contentious. At this meeting there were security screenings for all attendees and no bags were left unchecked. Everyone was screened with a metal detector as well. The meeting was held without any threats or disruptions because people there did their job.
For months, Honor the Earth has threatened to “bring Standing Rock” to Minnesota. This week they brought to town and our state the people behind Standing Rock protests (numerous social media postings prove this) to use thuggish threats to stop a process and this project. It worked for now but should also force us all to ask some important questions.
Winona LaDuke and others have tried to claim they don’t want violence, yet why do they continue to bring “expert paid protestors” here from across the country to oppose Line 3 and who just ignore any rule they don’t like? Why do they continue to try to create an environment connected to the false premise that the means justifies the ends, regardless of what happens or who gets hurt? They want to create the idea that it is Minnesota who disapproves of Line 3 – they are wrong!
I know that Minnesota is more and better than this. We will not and cannot let stand what happened this week as an acceptable standard of behavior or as any way to move forward. I do understand and respect that people have strong reasons to oppose this project. I also hope that opponents understand why so many others support Line 3 and know it is the right thing for Minnesota.
Fear creates more fear. Threatening harm too often forces others to respond in an equal way. Not being ready to do your job when you play a key role in this process encourages others to continue to ignore rules as they spread hate.
Let’s hope the PUC and DOC realize the impact of what happened this week and where they failed Minnesota. There will be more meetings and other situations where we need and depend on the process to move things forward. I believe together we can focus on the best of Minnesota and move forward together.