House speaker tries to pipe blame to Dayton

Minnesota House Republicans have stepped up their push for pipelines to replace trains carrying North Dakota crude oil across the state, including trying to blame Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton for a pipeline setback.

Minnesota House Republicans have stepped up their push for pipelines to replace trains carrying North Dakota crude oil across the state, including trying to blame Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton for a pipeline setback.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said Dayton interfered with state regulators’ decisions about whether to approve a northern Minnesota pipeline when two of his agencies requested a change in how the regulators planned to make decisions. Regulators eventually accepted the change sought by the Dayton administration and environmentalists, a change that lead to a state Appeals Court ruling that may have delayed the pipeline.
Daudt and Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, used strong language to push pipelines days after a state Appeals Court ruling appeared to have delayed the Sandpiper pipeline that would take oil across northern North Dakota and Minnesota to Superior, Wis. Garofalo said the upsides of a pipeline like Sandpiper are construction jobs and safer oil transportation.
Environmentalists who filed the suit are hurting northern Minnesota communities, Daudt said in a St. Paul news conference. “They don’t care that the unemployment rate in greater Minnesota is twice that here in the metro area.”
However, the Friends of the Headwaters group, organized to protect water near the upper reaches of the Mississippi River, says it is concerned that the pipeline could go through fragile areas of northern Minnesota, although they say they do not oppose a pipeline.
“There is a big divide in Minnesota right now,” Daudt said. “It really is between the environmentalists in Minneapolis and St. Paul and those in greater Minnesota who want to see progress on projects like this.”
Dayton’s Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency joined the friends group in urging state utility regulators to change the process used in other pipeline decisions. They asked that the process to show the pipeline is necessary be separated from determining the exact route of the pipeline. When the Public Utilities Commission made that change, the friends sued the state.
The Appeals Court overturned a commission vote declaring the pipeline necessary and ordered it to conduct an extensive environmental study before making any significant decisions on Sandpiper.
In a statement to Forum News Service, Dayton said he supports Sandpiper but will leave decisions up to the court and commissioner charged with that job.
“He did interfere with the process...” Daudt said about the governor, because his two agencies asked commissioners to change their procedure.
On the other hand, Daudt earlier said of Dayton playing a role in the lawsuit: “I don’t know if the governor was working with these groups.”
Sandpiper vote Oct. 1

When the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission meets Oct. 1, it will reconsider its summer decision that a crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota is needed.
The state Appeals Court on Monday overturned the PUC decision, saying state law requires a compressive environmental study before any significant decisions are made on a pipeline.
The PUC meeting agenda says commissioners will decide whether to reconsider approving a certificate of need. Technically, commissioners could stand behind their earlier vote that the pipeline is needed, but they likely would end up in front of judges again since there has been no environmental impact statement prepared.
The agenda makes the point that the PUC does not need to take comments or hold a hearing to take a vote.
Minnesota an example

A Wyoming legislative committee is considering using Minnesota’s method of stashing away money for a rainy day.
Long-time Wyoming opinion writer Kerry Drake wrote on the WyoFile Website that his state is not saving enough money, especially in light of dropping energy prices in a state that depends on energy taxes.
Wyoming officials hired Pew Charitable Trusts to study the rainy day issue and former Minnesota State Economist Tom Stinson was one of the people who talked to the Wyoming committee, explaining how he established budget reserve goals.
Ironically, Minnesota legislators always listened to what Stinson said, but almost always found spending more of a priority than saving money. WyoFile did not report if Stinson told Wyoming lawmakers that.
Rosen for Congress?

Sally Jo Sorensen writes on her Bluestem Prairie blog that state Sen. Julie Rosen could be considered a potential contender for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District race.
When Rep. John Kline, a Republican, said he would not seek re-election to the district in the southern Twin Cities and rural areas just to the south, it set off feverish speculation about who would run.
Sorensen said that Rosen lives outside of the district, but in 2011 built a 5,784-square-foot second home in the district. Her official home is a small one near Vernon Center, southeast of Kline’s district.
The blogger notes that since Rosen helped negotiate the Vikings stadium deal she could use that to argue she can craft deals in Washington.
Justice awaits vote

A Minnesota Supreme Court justice is waiting for the U.S. Senate to confirm her appointment to the federal bench.
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the nomination of Justice Wilhelmina Wright. If the full Senate agrees, she will leave the state high court and serve as federal judge in Minnesota.
“Justice Wright is the total package: her breadth of experience, deep legal knowledge and strong character make her highly qualified for the position,” U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said.
Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Wright to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2012.


Don Davis covers Minnesota government and politics for Forum News Service. Read his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @CapitolChatter.


Gov. Dayton backs Sandpiper pipeline but won’t interfere

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