Regional and Local Briefs: October 2014

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BAD HEART BULL SELECTED FOR ECONOMIC

FELLOWSHIP

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.

ENBRIDGE DISCLOSES DELAYS IN

CONSTRUCTION

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.

DEDICATION OF CHIEF BEMIDJI STATUE

POSTPONED UNTIL JUNE

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.

TRIBAL LEADERS AND ACTIVISTS SAY STATE

MOVING TOO SLOW ON TOXIN STUDIES

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 MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MURDER

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.

FOND DU LAC READY TO LEAD THE WAY ON

SOLAR ENERGY

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.