With their arms interlocked inside PVC pipes, young folks and their supporters loudly sought justice in front of Secretary of State John Kerry’s house on the afternoon of August 25. The youth led action was called “Midwest Unrest”, and youth and older allies traveled by overnight bus from five Midwestern states to D.C. to participate. After four hours of peaceful chanting and singing, twenty of us were arrested for blocking passage and given a small fine for acting on our conscience. The old adage “Power concedes nothing without a demand” is true, but life altering at times.
We targeted Kerry for his department’s tacit approval of an Enbridge scheme on their Alberta Clipper pipeline that completely bypasses environmental review and a required presidential permit. The pipeline now illicitly carries the same amount of high carbon crude as the proposed but stalled similar TransCanada Keystone XL. Both big pipelines lack the necessary permits to transport huge quantities of Canadian tar sands across the international border.
Enbridge’s particular scheme involves switching the Clipper tar sands oil to another pipeline just at the international crossing and then switching it back to the Clipper once across. This other pipeline has no limit on its fifty year old permit. The Clipper pipeline starts in Alberta, Canada, slices across the width of Minnesota, and terminates in Superior, Wisconsin, near Lake Superior. There the oil loads onto other Enbridge pipelines to move tar sands to the Chicago area, and also to Gulf Coast refineries, where refined products are exported.
At the same time as this D.C. action, Honor the Earth and supporters were riding horseback and paddling canoes against the oil flow across northern Minnesota, in a third annual “Love Water, not Oil” tour. And many northern Minnesota residents spoke at public hearings about another Enbridge pipeline that is proposed to be sited in a new Minnesota crude oil corridor. In the Twin Cities, people carried photographs of the many simultaneous events to Senator Klobuchar and Franken’s office as well, asking for the Senators to contact Kerry.
On September 10th, in Minneapolis, a U.S. District Court judge will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging this scheme under the National Environmental Protection Act. The lawsuit is being brought forward by Minnesota indigenous tribes, and national and local environmental and climate change groups.
We rally against tar sands oil because it’s extraction, transport and refinement releases up to 37% more carbon dioxide than regular oil, and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere already exceeds safe levels. Tar sands extraction destroys indigenous homelands and their water, and the Kalamazoo, Michigan tar sands disaster five years ago clearly demonstrated tar sands spills and clean water are incompatible.
The light of day needs to be brought to this Enbridge pipeline scheme while we can still mitigate the worst effects of climate change.