Opponents of both Enbridge Line Three and the proposed Polymet copper mine have new reason to be hopeful.
The Fond du Lac Band won an important federal court case against the proposed copper mine 70 miles north of the reservation. The band had sued both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, saying they had failed to consider Fond du Lac’s interests environmental quality standards when they granted Polymet a permit. The band says Polymet’s plan to dredge or fill wetlands will mean more mercury in the St. Louis River, which runs through the reservation.
Now a federal court judge ruled that under the Clean Water Act, the EPA must NOT grant the wetland permit until it considers the interests of the Fond du Lac band.
And work on Enbridge’s Line Three could be stopped depending on a decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. This week the Court hears arguments from the state commerce department. The Commerce Department along with Red Lake, White Earth and the Mille Lacs Band – say the the pipleline is NOT necessary because demand for fossil fuel will drop. Meanwhile the public utilities commission supports Enbridge’s argument that it needs the pipeline to meet demand. The Court has 90 days to decide whether to revoke the permit.
The White Earth Nation announced an increase in the minimum wage that will affect hundreds of employees this month, and more as the economy recovers.
White Earth Nation has begun paying it’s employees a minimum of $16 an hour. For perspective, the state minimum wage is only $8.21 an hour for small business and $10.08 for larger employers – those whose sales are half a million dollars or more. Secretary Treasurer Alan Roy said the decision helps position White Earth for a post-pandemic economic recovery.
“We were actually talking about 15. And then we ended up going with 16. Because one, we really appreciate our employees. But also we want to make sure that we’re our standard is as high if not higher than everyone around us.” said Roy
Secretary Treasurer Roy said even employees who already made $16 hour or more will get a raise. The new rates apply to all employees of the Nation, Native or not. Before the pandemic, White Earth employed close to 2000 people, and it looks forward to the day when Shooting Star Casino and its other enterprises can get back there again.
“We want to make sure that our families have a livable wage, we want to make sure that we have competitive salary and pay,” said Roy. “We also want to make sure that we can retain our employees, so they they can stay part of the tribe, they can stay part of the family to make sure that we we have the best workers possible.
“A lot of our folks talk about Native nation rebuilding. I really believe White Earth is in a position to say that it native the time to rebuild is now.” he said.