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White Earth holds Public Hearing on Sandpiper Pipeline


WHITE EARTH, MINN. – In the matter of the application of Enbridge Energy, which seeks to construct the Sandpiper Pipeline along a route that may result in an environmental impact on lands and waters on or near the Rice Lake Community of the White Earth Reservation, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has held a series of hearings taking testimony from the public and local governments.

No hearings were held on any of the Indian reservations that will be impacted by this project.  Therefore, under the authority of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe as a sovereign Indian Nation charged with protecting the welfare of its members, the governing body of the White Earth Nation hereby announces a Public Hearing scheduled for Thursday, June 4 at 5 p.m. at the Rice Lake Community Center.  The purpose of this hearing is to collect information from Band members and experts regarding:

(1) Concerns regarding oil spills and the potential risks to surface and ground water on or near the Rice Lake Community and lands held in federal trust status for the White Earth Band of Ojibwe;

(2) Concerns regarding the self-sufficiency of individual Band members and cultural practices, such as harvesting wild rice within the Rice Lake watershed.

(3) The legal implications of the lack of consultation with the White Earth Band of Ojibwe;

(4) The legal implications of the lack of consultation with the White Earth Band of Ojibwe’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) regarding the identification of  lands along the pipeline route related to their historical, archeological and cultural significance; and

(5) The potential legal involvement of the federal government:  First, whether the Department of the Interior is properly carrying out its Trust Responsibility with regard to federal and tribal land; Second, whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the safety of the Sandpiper Pipeline project to lands and waters important to Indian tribes and federal land; and Third, whether the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) should conduct an EIS to assess the potential impact of the Sandpiper project to wetlands and waters under its jurisdiction.   

This hearing will be held pursuant to the White Earth Tribal Council’s responsibility to investigate and inquire into matters affecting the general welfare of the Band and its members.

Band members who wish to testify at this hearing are invited to attend. Band member employees who wish to testify at this hearing should notify their supervisors in advance to make arrangements to do so.