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Regulatory Capture at MN’s PUC: An Interview with Willis Mattison

Minnesota’s Office of the Legislative Auditor has opened an investigation into the Public Utilities Commission Public Engagement Process and held the first public hearing May 31st at 10:00 AM to establish the scope of their investigation.

In this video interview outside of the State Office Building, Willis Mattison provides a bit more information about the OLA’s investigation and describes how the PUC is an agency that demonstrated the concept of ‘Regulatory Capture’ in its proceedings on Line 3.


A self-described career bureaucrat keenly involved with protecting the environment, Mattison comments on the PUC and Line 3 saying “It’s important that we make agencies more responsive to the public they serve and this was probably, in my career, the worst example I’ve seen of a State agency that was immune to, and resistant to, full public participation.”

Many opponents of the proposed Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project experienced issues with the way in which the PUC carried out its permitting process and were in attendance to voice their concerns.

Testimony from this first meeting in front of the Auditor included grievances on a variety of levels. In one instance, a participant attending the PUC meetings was not allowed to enter the courtroom wearing snow pants when outside temperatures in downtown St. Paul, MN, were below freezing. As a result, the participant entered the courtroom in her undergarment base layer.

Many voiced concern that to have secured a place in the courtroom during the PUC proceedings, a member of the public would have needed to arrive in the wee hours of the morning (5-6 AM for a 10:00 AM meeting) because the Enbridge-backed “Minnesotan’s for Line 3” group would typically have already formed a line around the block to ensure their branded shirts filled the primary hearing room.

To submit comments to the Office of the Legislative Auditor in regards to your experience with the PUC’s Public Engagement Process use the following links:

OLA’s Works In Progress Overview:
Direct Comment-Submission Link for input on the PUC’s Public Engagement Process:

For some interesting interviews with members of “Minnesotan’s for Line 3” who formed a line around the building during the PUC’s hearings in the summer of 2018, click here:

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