As ground thaws, Minnesotans keep standing against Line 3

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photo credit: Margie O’Loughlin

Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

On Thursday, hundreds of people gathered in St. Paul near the Ford Parkway Bridge across the Mississippi to speak out against the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline being pushed into the earth in Northern Minnesota. Their aim: to persuade President Joe Biden to revoke permits for the pipeline, as he wisely did for Keystone XL, and prevent the climate-harming project from being completed. In the immediate term, this would keep Enbridge from drilling under the Mississippi River headwaters and nine other rivers, which they are poised to do as soon as the ice is off the water.

The rally was organized by MEP partner Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, and was part of a grassroots multi-faith day of action that lifted up bold climate demands in over 40 countries. More than 300 high-level faith leaders stood in solidarity with those directly working to halt Line 3.

It comes at a critical time: the pipeline is nearly at 50% completion, and Enbridge is likely to begin drilling again within days. Water protectors will continue doing what they can to halt the pipeline, after Minnesota state agencies enabled construction by permitting this Enbridge boondoggle. Federal action could still stop this pipeline before more harm is inflicted on Minnesota.

If you’ve read our previous coverage of Line 3, you likely know why it ought to be stopped:

  • Tar sands oil is among the most carbon-heavy on Earth, and this pipeline’s oil and operation would have a yearly climate impact greater than Minnesota’s entire economy combined. Despite being billed as a replacement project for the aging Line 3 that is already in the ground, it would more than double the amount of oil being transported.
  • Line 3 violates the treaty rights of these sacred lands guaranteed to the Anishinaabe tribes of Minnesota. It carves a new path underneath waters that are home to the resources that the treaties are meant to protect, such as wild rice and fish. A spill in these lakes and rivers at the headwaters of the Mississippi would be devastating to these resources and represent yet another attack on Anishinaabe culture.
  • The threat to those waters, and to Lake Superior, is a real one. While Enbridge claims that its new pipeline is a safe alternative to the old one, its track record is not one of safety: the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history took place on the old Line 3 right here in Minnesota. Saying, “but this time it will be different!” is not especially convincing.
  • Pipeline opponents predicted that Line 3 would lead to a spike in sex crimes and exacerbate the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis in Minnesota, and so far this prediction is proving painfully accurate. Reports of assaults and harassment near the construction corridor are continuing to emerge.
  • The Line 3 process was designed and allowed by agencies to favor Enbridge. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not prepare an environmental impact statement, leading to a court challenge by plaintiffs that include the Red Lake and White Earth Anishinaabe bands. Fortunately, President Biden has the power to send the Corps back to the drawing board.

The alternative to the aging Line 3 that currently snakes through Minnesota is not to replace it with a new pipeline; it’s to remove it entirely, leave the tar sands oil in the ground, and transition to an economy that is no longer powered by fossil fuels. We’ve been encouraged by many of the climate steps that President Biden has taken so far. We hope to see him make the right decision on Line 3.

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