Urgent: The Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Must Be Stopped
There is a ticking time bomb buried in Minnesota. It’s a massive, 1,097 mile-long snake made of faulty steel, burrowed under the earth. It pumps tar sands, one of the dirtiest fuels in the world, from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. This snake trespasses through Native American reservations- the Fond du Lac Reservation of the Lake Superior Chippewa and the Leech Lake Reservation of Ojibwe- endangering the land and people who live there. This snake is the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline.
Enbridge is the Canadian oil company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in America. Now, it wants to build another pipeline in the same area. While they call this new plan a “replacement”, they have no intention of actually replacing the pipeline. Enbridge plans to leave the existing 60 year-old pipeline to rot in the ground, while building a new, bigger, and longer pipeline through wild land. Land full of natural resources promised by treaty to the Anishinaabe Nation of indigenous peoples. Land that they rely on for their traditional food sources and way of life.
Tar sands crude, an extremely thick type of oil, is what will run through the new pipeline. “Tar sands are worse because there’s very little study on the effects of tar sands on living organisms. And it sinks in water, so they have to put gas condensate, a lighter gas, and chemicals into the oil to thin it out so that it can get through the lines,” explains Dawn Goodwin, an Anishinaabe water protector fighting against Line 3.
What’s Wrong With Pipelines?
The reason oil pipelines are so dangerous is because it isn’t a matter of “if” they leak, but when. That’s why Enbridge’s plan makes my palms sweat. It will run through the clean, pure lakes, rivers, and wetlands of Northern Minnesota- over 200 of them, to be exact, while also being scarily close to the Great Lakes. These bodies of water provide one fifth of the world’s freshwater supply, and all of them support delicate, aquatic ecosystems. Not to mention that there are major fisheries throughout the area that generate $7.2 billion every year and sustain 49,000 jobs. The pipeline would also cut right through the Anishinaabe’s wild rice beds, a crucial food source for them. This wild rice only grows in this area of Minnesota- nowhere else in the country, or the entire world.
Bracken, Amber. “Line 3 Construction”. Greenpeace. 2020 jpg file.
What’s the Status?
Despite all of the lives and lands that the pipeline would endanger, Minnesota regulators approved the plan this past November. After a grueling seven years in which environmental and indigenous groups fought Enbridge tooth and nail, it has won the permits it needs to begin construction. “They can now de-water lakes and move water in between basins and wetlands”, said Winona LaDuke, an Anishinaabe water protector, in an interview with Park Rapids Enterprise. Winona LaDuke is also the executive director of Honor the Earth, one of the organizations at the forefront of the fight against Enbridge, and has been fighting them since the beginning.
“…the treaties have been ignored for so long and kept out of history… They’ve been ignored and people think they don’t have to follow them.” – Dawn Goodwin
Enbridge has been able to push through the approval process by deliberately evading the indigenous groups that would be affected. They also ignored the Anishinaabe’s treaty rights to the resources of the land, specifically the Treaty of 1855, which the pipeline will directly impact. How are Enbridge and all of the politicians who gave it approval able to brush past this 170 year-old written agreement? Dawn Goodwin’s answer to my burning question doesn’t inspire much pride in our government. “Because the treaties have been ignored for so long and kept out of history… They’ve been ignored and people think they don’t have to follow them. And it’s been ignored so long that people think that’s okay.”
Stop Line 3.org. “Enbridge Line 3 Impact on Treaty Resources”. 2020. jpg file.
Hovland, Ben. “Dawn Goodwin and another water protector watch workers resume construction on the Line 3 pipeline in Aitkin County, Minn., on Saturday, Jan. 9.” 2020. jpg file.
If the Ojibwe, and all of the Anishinaabe groups, can no longer live off their land, eating the food that their ancestors did, maintaining their centuries-old harvesting and gathering practices, they lose their traditional way of life. They lose a huge part of who they are as a culture. That is a sobering thought. Native peoples have suffered, and miraculously survived, so much cultural genocide already. We know this, but we think of it as part of history, something that happened in the past. It isn’t. It’s happening right now. By repeatedly ignoring the Anishinaabe’s objections and thumbing its nose at their safety and well-being, Enbridge, and all of the politicians who helped it, have shown us that racism against Native Americans is alive and well.
Food is life, and it’s identity. The American government has used this against Native Americans before. In the 1800’s, the U.S. government issued a call to kill as many American bison as possible. They knew that the bison were the main food source of the Great Plains tribes, who were blocking white settlers trying to move west at the time. Rather than come to a fair agreement with the tribes, the government massacred their food source, starving them out and forcing them onto reservations.
Smithsonian Magazine. “Where the Buffalo No Longer Roamed.” Mid-1870’s. jpg file.
Zerr, Emily. 2020. jpg file.
“…I had a prayer lodge there on the banks of the Mississippi [River] to pray, and Enbridge put a stake in the middle of the prayer lodge…” -Winona LaDuke
“My sister, Tanya, and I had a prayer lodge there on the banks of the Mississippi [River] to pray, and Enbridge put a stake in the middle of the prayer lodge, as it was in the middle of the route of the pipeline.” She explains that Enbridge was required to have a cultural resource monitor to prevent it from disrespecting or interfering with Anishinaabe resources and practices, but “there was nobody out there.” To make matters worse, she received a citation for being in her prayer lodge. “To be really clear, this is all public land. This is Minnesota Public Land, not private land. It’s yours and mine. That we’re being excluded from.”
Eisenbart, Jennifer. “A Matter of Perspective”. 2020. jpg file.
But Winona, Dawn, and the rest of the water protectors are not without support. In her interview, Winona explains, “On Thursday, we expect about 200 people from churches in Minneapolis, including some bishops, coming to prayer circles and ceremonies on the river…There’s a lot of opposition to this pipeline and in the meantime, more people have been arrested. Yesterday 22 people were arrested, the oldest 65 and the youngest at 18…And I just want to be clear: the water protectors are not criminals. We’re patriots. We’re protecting our water from a Canadian multinational corporation.”
The Dying Oil Industry
A multinational corporation that is in a declining industry. Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasted that global oil consumption is going down significantly, and that its future is looking more precarious than expected. IEA has said that “the path ahead [for oil] is treacherous”. According to National Public Radio, the OPEC, an international oil group that many consider a cartel, has cut down its expectations for oil demand. Additionally, a huge oil trading company called Trafigura has predicted that there’s going to be a huge surplus of oil, much more than there is a demand for. In other words, the writing is on the wall for the oil industry. Oil is a limited resource, and the fact that Enbridge is having to resort to tar sands, a lower quality oil, is a telling sign that the supply isn’t what it used to be. The Line 3 pipeline is Enbridge’s attempt to stay viable in a world that’s leaving it behind.
How You Can Help
This petition calls for the Biden administration to stop Line 3, as they did for the Keystone XL pipeline.
If you’re able to do so safely, come to Minnesota. As Dawn told me, “if you can, come. We need bodies. The time is now. If you can afford to buy fish houses, or to build structures for people to stay. Maybe you can come for a whole month, maybe you can only come for the weekend. But you could build a structure that you’re building for [water protectors] to use [in the cold winter].”
To do this, you can contact Stop Line 3 at [email protected] , or Honor the Earth at [email protected] . You can also sign the Statement of Opposition to Line 3 and indicate that you are willing to physically come, or you can help organize events and action remotely.
Honor the Earth. “Last Breath of the Black Snake.” 2020. jpg file.
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