Gazelka's threat to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency over Enbridge permits
July 29, 2021
(St. Paul, MN) -- On Tuesday MinnPost published a piece detailing Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s threatening phone call to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop regarding a controversial 401 pollution permit. Canadian oil giant Enbridge Energy needed the water quality permit to begin construction on the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Northern Minnesota. The call came after a “performance review” of the commissioner where her job was dangled by Republican senators after they had already terminated Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley and Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink.
In the voice message Gazelka told Bishop, “I just can’t stress enough how important it is that you do your job with these and that the permits get issued.”
“Big oil gives a lot of money to climate-denying lawmakers, and it obviously pays off,” said Brett Benson, Communications Director for MN350. “It is wholly inappropriate for the Senate majority leader to threaten an agency commissioner to issue permits for any project. Minnesotans expect our agencies to follow the facts, the science, and the law, not the wishes of powerful politicians. This is yet another example of how the approval process for Line 3 was profoundly corrupted.”
Gazelka’s warning was issued in November 2020, a month before the permits for Line 3 were ultimately issued. Permits are supposed to be issued based on science, law, and what is best for Minnesotans, and free from political interference. Bishop resigned this month under pressure from the same group of climate-denying state Senators.