350 Madison 350 Madison, December 3, 2015

Report and comments re Dane County Board meeting last night on Enbridge REJECTED appeal re environmental insurance language:

Thanks to all for turning out, wearing RETAIN! Stickers, registering and/or speaking in opposition, the ZLR’s decision to retain the insurance was upheld by a 27-2 vote!

Please let Mary Beth know if your name is left off these lists!

People who testified orally against Enbridge included Ronni Monroe, Peter Anderson, Cassie Steiner, Harry Bennett, Mary Beth Elliott, Don Ferber, Carl Whiting, Susan Nossel, Bruce Noble, Kevin McGettigan, Joan Arnold, Tim Jensen

Folks who were there for us and/or registering in opposition to Enbridge appeal included Judy Stadler, Kate Schulte, Ken Skog, Phyllis Hasbrouck, Kevin Corrado, Steve Spieckerman , Susan O’Leary, Lynn Shoemaker, Janette Rosenbaum, Laura Schlachter, Lori van Caster, Tim Jensen, Julie de la Terre, Bill Greendeer, and Bob Hoass

Carl Whiting and Ronni Monroe and Peter Anderson have provided most of the info below, but here are a few things to note:

–Enbridge may be under threat in the future if the legislature repeals the law preventing counties from requiring environmental insurance

–One of the county board members pointed to us in the audience, and said that if a future elected legislature did repeal the law (thus allowing the insurance requirement to take force) , that it was up to us, 350 Madison to help elect such a legislature! 

–Obfuscation by Enbridge attorney: Claimed he had no knowledge re whether Enbridge had anything to do with the legislature passing the offending law [although they hired four lobbyists shortly before]….but several county board members made clear they did not believe that!

–We brought in/brought closer new supporters, rural and urban

–Tremendous support by ZLR and County Board, this will stand us in good stead for the upcoming Line 66

Now for the pieces de resistance:

From Ronnie Monroe today (see Brave Wisconsin facebook page below)

Courage versus Cowardice

By Ronni Monroe        December 4, 2015

http://bravewisconsin.com

I am so incredibly proud of the Dane County Board voting to deny Enbridge’s appeal. It makes no difference as far as the pumping station goes, because our State Legislature passed a law stating that counties can’t require insurance from pipeline companies…great law, hey? But, it was the first spark of local governments resisting the heavy fat thumb of tyranny, which is what we are living under right now. Tyranny. Plain and simple. Finally, some of those elected to represent us, ARE! Regardless of the cost to them, and Enbridge will exact a cost, as I call it ‘monetary penance’ for defying them, so we need to be there to support these brave souls. 27 to 2 was a pretty impressive vote. I’m over the moon happy to see that many brave people willing to tell Enbridge to stick it with their demand that they retroactively change the original CUP conditions and expunge them, forever….that they admit that the conditions were illegal, when in fact they were not.

Enbridge’s attorney argued that if the County Board members voted to deny the Conditional Use Permit, that they were violating Wisconsin law, and could be subject to some kind of penalty, even though, when the Zoning and Land Regulation Committee approved the CUP last April, the Wisconsin State Legislature had not yet passed a law banning municipalities from requiring insurance from pipeline companies. Not to mention, they did not write in a retroactivity clause.  I’m hoping that the weasels in the legislature are not rushing to an emergency meeting to pass a law for this to be retroactive.

The Dane County Board stood with the Zoning and Land Regulation Committee’s decision to require that Enbridge purchase an additional environmental insurance policy.  (Even though the State has made that clause unenforceable.)

Peter Anderson and Mary Beth Elliott of Madison 350.org did a masterful job presenting the case for denying the appeal and retaining the wording of the April CUP.

So, does that mean that will happen?  In one word, no.  But those who stood for the people’s safety, will be forever on record, historically, as having done that.  More importantly, it is the first time we have had a major community rights action against Enbridge.  That is real victory here.  The Dane County Board refused to be bullied into retracting its wording, to expunging its mention of wanting an insurance policy, because they were within their rights to do so, and because it was the reasonable action to take, to protect the citizens of Dane County.  Obviously our State Legislature feels no compulsion to protect our citizens from the fossil fuel industry.  They don’t want them to have to pay for the damages they do, they are letting them run roughshod over our rural people with their new and improved eminent domain law too.

I had the honor, by luck of the draw, to be the first speaker before the county board.  There were many passionate and eloquent speakers last night and being first to speak allowed me to enjoy the full experience by listening to each and every one.  The meeting went on to almost midnight before the vote was taken.

I won’t bore you with the entire speech, but the closing words of my 5 minute statement to the board were, “If it isn’t clear to the Dane County Board by now, the legislature will attack the County’s right to zone, regardless of what the county board decides to do here tonight. Enbridge will likely attempt to extract monetary penance from those who dare to oppose them. We are not dealing with a reasonable legislature or system, we are dealing with tyranny and we can stand up to it with courage or cower. A governmental body that represents people, must at some point take a stand for the people. No matter which body takes a stand and no matter when they do it the odds are next to impossible to prevail but the duty to take a stand has never been greater. For history will record our courage or our cowardice on the matter.”

We seldom realize we are making history while we are doing it but history will record our Dane County Board as courageous.  The vote may vanish into obscurity, but it’s possible that history may record yesterday’s vote as another ‘shot heard round the world’ and a shot in the best way. History will certainly record our 27 Dane County Board members who voted ‘no’ as patriots.  I salute them.

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Testimony opposing Enbridge’s Dane County Board Appeal on Dec. 3rd, 2015

By Carl Whiting

For the next five minutes, I would like to tell you a bedtime story.

Actually, this may well be a story that will keep you up at night:

Which is where we begin…with a wealthy, powerful benefactor tossing and turning in his bed as the hours tick on. He is trying desperately to think of a way to help the oppressed…particularly that vanishingly narrow class of the oppressed called ‘oil pipeline operators in the state of Wisconsin’, who the benefactor knows to be staggering under the burden of a local county’s requirement that they purchase the necessary insurance to properly clean up their messes.

But how, how to help these poor souls, thought the benefactor? And this is where our story goes a bit dark, but as he lay scheming in that rumpled bed, the wealthy and powerful altruist must have hit upon the idea of inserting his handiwork into the state budget 999 Bill. He, or she, or they—perhaps it was a big bed—jumped to their feet and rushed right down to the State Legislature, just in time to encourage a successful block to the county’s legal rights. But, alas, when they uncapped their pens to proudly affix their signatures, they found there was no place to sign!

Such a loss for humanity, this anonymity, for if we could only identify this powerful person or persons, we could implore them to use their miraculous persuasive gifts for other worthy causes—perhaps in Paris to get a stronger climate change accord– or something like that.

And that should be where our story ends. The giant pipeline company now found itself free, no longer shackled to the appropriate environmental insurance requirements, and able to build without care of consequence, happily ever after….

But like any appropriately frightening bedtime tale, this one grows by turns yet darker: Because now the giant pipeline company is back, demanding not only that the right of the County to protect its flora, fauna, and citizenry should be forfeited, but indeed, that any trace of this effort to protect the community should be permanently expunged from the record.

Why? Why would a Limited liability partnership with so many other irons in the fire be concerned with a ragged little hole in a trampled community rights document? 

And then, dear reader, it dawned on me:

A giant new pipeline would soon be coming to town, and although any county’s successful bid to protect its citizens is understandably frightening to the pipeline giant, it is also true that –when their massive line eventually blows out– a second, almost equally awful terror would be to have any evidence on record that a county had ever tried to protect itself.

And that’s what really kills me. That you are here again, Enbridge. That wrinkled scrap of assurances, ripped out of our collective rights, isn’t for you. It never was for you, any more than your ever-expanding tar sands freeway through our county is for us.

Fresh from your quiet work to create the largest tar sands pipeline in the Western Hemisphere, you have announced (to investors), and then denounced (to the public), and then announced again (to the business community) your plan to twin Line 61, modestly suggesting that the new line will carry an additional 800,000 barrels per day (or just about as much is the cancelled Keystone pipeline, which the federal government found NOT to be in our national interest).

Given your track record, Enbridge, forgive us for our suspicions that 800,000 barrels per day–staggering a figure as that may be– is only the camel’s nose under the tent. Line 61 started out at an announced 400,000 barrels per day and, at that time, no larger figure could be found anywhere, including the 115-page WDNR Environmental Assessment. And yet, since then the behemoth has somehow tripled in size. This time around, hearing the rather loud snufflings of an 800,000-barrel camel nose, we’re more than a little worried about the size of the entire beast lurking outside.

With the construction of this monster looming on our county’s eastern flank, it  indeed makes quite good sense that you wouldn’t want to leave behind a ragged hole torn from this county’s collection of rights. Better that you seek, here in this body of democratic government, to apply a little selective amnesia …. so that when the next inevitable rupture occurs, we can all throw up our hands to a surprise brand new worst day of our lives, unsullied by a nagging paper trail documenting the legal efforts of a community who once stood firm and demanded the proper protections, should they ever find themselves in a rising pool of oil.

That wrinkled scrap of our rights, unenforceable as your miraculously-invisible friend may have rendered it, still belongs to us–all of us who must live with the increasing threat this expanding pipeline corridor poses to our lakes, our rivers, our land, our lives, and our future.

By your actions in this chamber, you have shown that the undemocratic actions of an international tar sands shipper are clearly not in our national interest, and that, in coming back here to sweep up the evidence of this trampling of our rights, your actions are indeed a threat to local democracy everywhere.

Wisconsin never signed up to be the nation’s tar sands freeway, at least not the Wisconsin I know. I suggest we keep our scrap of paper.

—–And to all, a goodnight.

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And, here is Peter Anderson’s comment today:

Last night the County Board voted 27-2 to reject the appeal by Enbridge, which objected to the Zoning Committee’s decision to retain cleanup insurance requirements in the April conditional use permit, which intended to prevent the need for a taxpayer bailout in the future when the inevitable oil spills from this disaster-prone company occur.

             350-Madison is proud that we have a county board in Dane County willing to stand up for what is right, even though the $42 billion Canadian pipeline behemoth appears to be able to treat many Legislators as a lapdog ravenous for campaign contributions, and willing to throw under the bus their constituents who will later have to pay higher taxes to bail out this Canadian firm’s next disaster here.

Last night the County Board voted 27-2 to reject the appeal by Enbridge, which objected to the Zoning Committee’s decision to retain cleanup insurance requirements in the April conditional use permit, which intended to prevent the need for a taxpayer bailout in the future when the inevitable oil spills from this disaster-prone company occur.

             350-Madison is proud that we have a county board in Dane County willing to stand up for what is right, even though the $42 billion Canadian pipeline behemoth appears to be able to treat many Legislators as a lapdog ravenous for campaign contributions, and willing to throw under the bus their constituents who will later have to pay higher taxes to bail out this Canadian firm’s next disaster here.

             Although the County is now legally prevented from itself enforcing this taxpayer protection provision, which the County Board’s action last night preserved, we are anticipating interesting developments in the future

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Thanks to all for your support and efforts!

Mary Beth Elliott, Tar Sands Lead