Regional and Local Briefs: October 2014
Monday, October 06 2014
Written by The Circle Staff,
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MINNEAPOLIS– The Business Alliance for Living Local Economies, an Oakland, Calif.-based organization, announced Jay Bad Heart Bull as a fellow for its 2014 Cohort.

Bad Heart Bull (Oglala Lakota) is the president and CEO of the Native American Community Development Institute, based in Minneapolis.

In a press release, BALLE praised each recipient. "Individually, each 2014 BALLE Local Economy Fellow is a proven leader and innovative local economy connector – someone who represents, convenes, and influences whole communities of local businesses from Boston to New Orleans to Minneapolis. Combined, they are a diverse group of leaders who represent the cutting edge of social entrepreneurship incubation, community capital cultivation, and social justice.”

“These challenging times require a different type of leader who can create the conditions for a new economy to emerge. Developing this type of leader is the purpose of the BALLE Local Economy Fellowship,” said Michelle Long, executive director of BALLE. “With the transformational leadership development, skills and tools, and connections these leaders will receive as part of the fellowship, BALLE Local Economy Fellows will be poised to democratize opportunity, ownership and the economy, and bring real prosperity to more people; fundamentally fixing our global economy from the ground up.'"

NACDI is an American Indian community development intermediary organization. It is an alliance of major Native non-profits and several Native businesses in the metropolitan area, committed to community-building through sector economic development and large-scale development. Its primary goal is to build community capacity and assets within high growth economic sectors as a way to provide resources and infrastructure for the Native community.



DULUTH, Minn. – Enbridge Energy Inc. on Sept. 30 said its proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline between western North Dakota and Superior, Wis., won’t be completed until 2017, about a year behind the company’s original estimate.

Enbridge announced the delay in a filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, noting that it is a material change in the company’s plans that stockholders need to know about.

The company had hoped to start construction in 2015 and have oil moving by early 2016. But those delays in the regulatory process – namely over how many possible pipeline routes should be studied – have led the company to revamp its official expectations.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is taking longer than expected to approve possible routes for the pipeline that need to be thoroughly studied for environmental and social impacts. The company hoped to limit those possible routes to two options. On Sept. 11, the PUC opened up the possibility that other routes might have to be included for study.

Several groups have organized to propose additional routes, or oppose the line altogether, saying Minnesota shouldn’t have to bear the risk for oil that will mostly go to other states. They cite the possibility of pipeline spills into northern Minnesota lakes, rivers, and wetlands, and some groups have proposed new routes that would take the line south, through more farmland and urban areas.

The oil would move from Superior down other lines to Chicago and other eastern cities. Sandpiper would be among the state's most expensive private construction projects – more than double the cost of the new Vikings football stadium in Minneapolis.

Enbridge had expected public hearings to be held on both the need for the pipeline and the route, simultaneously, over the winter with a final Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decision coming in May 2015. Construction would have started after PUC approval. Now, it appears the pipeline’s route and its perceived public need will be reviewed under a more complex process that separates the public need hearings from route considerations. The need hearings will be held on the original schedule, with hearings in January and an administrative law judge decision in April, Lorraine Little, an Enbridge spokeswoman, said Tuesday.


BEMIDJI, Minn. – The new Chief Bemidji statue installation scheduled for this fall was postponed until June, officials from the Chief Bemidji Statue Committee said Sept. 29.

Officials said in a press release that the installation and dedication of the bronze statue of Shaynowishkung in Library Park along the Lake Bemidji waterfront is being pushed back because of difficulties in the casting process. With cold weather approaching, the committee decided to wait and hold a community event next year.

The dedication was originally planned for this past September and then to early October before this latest postponement.

Construction of the platform for Chief Bemidji in Library Park has been completed. The committee said it now hopes to finish the informational signage, which will then be cast in bronze and mounted on the four pillars at the platform site. The plaques will highlight information on Shaynowishkung and the time period in which he lived.


DULUTH, Minn. – Fond du Lac Band leaders and environmentalist charge that Minnesota officials aren't doing enough to protect the public from toxins in the St. Louis River.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was expected to respond to the criticism through two of the state's top scientists at a forum Sept. 18 in Duluth. They planned to explain how the state is dealing with toxic mercury in the river's walleye, bass and northern pike. "We haven't run away from anything," said Shannon Lotthammer, who heads the agency's environmental analysis division. "We are continuing to pursue the scientific questions around this . It needs to be solved."

The state decided to go it alone in its mercury studies after pulling out of a federally funded research project to get rid of mercury in fish from the St. Louis River.

Reports say that state health officials said that despite advisories against eating too much of the river's fish, mercury has been found at unsafe levels in the blood of 1 in 10 infants on the north shore of Lake Superior. About 1 in 100 infants have levels of mercury in their blood high enough to cause neurological harm.

Len Anderson, a retired biology teacher and activist who lives along the St. Louis River, said he believes the state's decision to independently research mercury levels was made to protect mining companies and other industries that pollute the watershed with sulfate, which helps turn mercury into the form that accumulates in fish.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency researchers are currently studying a variety of potential factors that may lead to the conversion and buildup of mercury in fish, officials said.


RED LAKE, Minn. – A Red Lake man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in U.S. District Court in Fergus Falls on Sept. 11. Trevor Lee Jones, 20, is charged with unlawfully killing Jerick Michael Neadeau, 17, in July.

Jones is accused of stabbing Neadeau in the chest with a buck knife, causing his death when the two fought during a July 4 party at a residence located within the Red Lake Indian Reservation, according to court documents.

Jones is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, as was Neadeau.

Jones was charged with second-degree murder on Aug. 22. A preliminary hearing and detention hearing were scheduled for July 22, but Jones waived his right to the hearing and agreed to probable cause and detention. A sentencing date has yet to be released by the U.S. Attorney's Office.


CLOQUET, Minn. - The Fond du Lac Reservation will soon be the site of a new solar farm project that will contribute a significant source of energy to the reservation and provide environmental benefits.

The reservation is set to partner with Minnesota Power on the project, which will contribute $2 million, to build a 1-megawatt photovoltaic array on Fond du Lac tribal land. The photovoltaic cells convert photons into electricity and an added benefit is they operate silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions.

The reservation got its first taste of the benefits of solar energy when it installed a series of solar panels on the roof of its LEED-certified Resource Management Building a few years ago.

Now, Chuck Walt, the band's executive director, said the reservation is in negotiations with Minnesota Power to work out the details of this new project, which he said will be able to generate enough electricity to fulfill 10 percent of the needs of the Black Bear Casino Resort. “It takes a lot of power to run that kind of operation 24/7,” he said. “This new project should be very helpful as far as that goes.”

Though the reservation has not yet secured a site for the solar farm, Walt said they are looking in the proximity of the Casino Resort. He said an array of the size being considered would require approximately 10 acres of land.

With an estimated price tag of $2.5 million, the administrator said the reservation plans to partner on the project using some of its own resources, supplying about half a million dollars of the total cost. And while the project is still in the contracting and engineering phase, Walt said the hope is that construction could get underway as early as next year.

Minnesota Power spokesman Amy Rutledge said the company has partnered with the Fond du Lac Reservation on many initiatives over the years, including conservation projects, consultation on Minnesota Power’s St. Louis River Hydro Project, environmental water quality studies, such as mercury studies at Thomson Reservoir, advanced biomass exploration and a host of others.

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