This could be the beginning of the end of dependence on fossil fuels, as oil infrastructure companies like Enbridge and TC Energy face growing opposition from Indigenous peoples and environmental activists.
Pipeline 3, originally built in 1961, is a crude oil pipeline, particularly tar sands, that runs from Alberta to Canada to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Canadian energy company Enbridge is building a newer and larger pipeline in its place that will be able to carry more oil. They have completed segments across Wisconsin and North Dakota, but are still under construction in Minnesota. Enbridge claims this will replace the existing pipeline, while moves against Pipeline 3, such as Line 3 stop and Honor the earth, I think it will work as an extra pipeline because it will carry a lot more oil.
Since the 1,700 miles long Keystone XL The pipeline project was once again halted by an executive order from US President Joe Biden on the first day of his tenure, with some hope that similar large-scale pipeline projects such as Pipeline 3 will also be canceled. Biden declared that the project would not comply with his administration’s climate policy standards.
Stop Line 3 and Honor the Earth are still fighting to avoid the pipeline’s damaging effects on sacred Indigenous lands and the environment. Construction of the pipeline is a destructive process of deforestation and damage to wetlands, and an oil spill from the pipeline threatens the well-being of the sacred wild rice of the Anishnaabe tribe and the Mississippi River watershed. Construction of Pipeline 3 is called Enbridge’s “last attempt” by environmental activists, and shutting down the project would create a transition away from US dependence on oil.
Threat to Indigenous Rights
Sirkka Miller, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is leading a research project analyzing anti-pipeline activist groups, particularly with a focus on Line 3. According to Miller, the Anishnaabe people have been forced to do reservations by the US government and now their conventional rights of control over their sovereign lands are not being retained. The new pipeline corridor in Minnesota would violate the treaty rights of 1842, 1854, and 1855 by cutting through five Indigenous reservations in the Anishnaabe Tribe.
Miller said it was “another violation that perpetuates a pattern of cultural genocide” by the US government against Indigenous culture.
Joye Braun, also known as Eagle Feather Woman, of the Lakota Tribe, said in an online meeting against Liberty Mutual, which operates Pipeline 3, that indigenous peoples are constantly placed at the forefront. destruction of the environment, such as the fossil fuel and coal industries. because of systemic racism. Liberty Mutual has refused countless requests to meet with Indigenous leaders and the frontline community affected by this insurance, according to Braun.
“These [insurance] Companies and fossil fuel companies are digging new coal mines and building oil sands pipelines, like Line 3 and Trans Mountain, and expanding oil and gas drilling without the free prior consent of the indigenous communities concerned, ”said Braun.
Indigenous women and children, in particular, are endangered by the construction of pipelines on reserves. According to data provided by the CDC in 2016, homicide was the third leading cause of death among Native American and Alaskan women under the age of 20. Native Americans are also more likely to be killed by law enforcement than other racial or ethnic groups.
In February, two workers from line 3 stopped for human trafficking in Minnesota, one of which was charged with soliciting sex with a minor. In addition, according to Line 3 stop, a non-profit organization near the Red Lake reservation that provides emergency services to victims of sexual and domestic violence has had an increased demand for assistance since construction of Line 3 began. The Violence Intervention submitted a document to the Minnesota Public Services Commission (PUC) that says local women and girls are verbally harassed by Line 3 workers.
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Meline Leboucan, from the Indigenous Cree Nation of Canada, said several oil sand pipelines run through their land and glaciers are drained to feed pipelines that poison the water. She showed photos of herself and her family cleaning up a spread of 250,000 liters of oil from a pipeline in 2016, rather than Husky Energy, which owned the pipeline.
Leboucan explained the consequences of environmental destruction on their land: “Our family members have high rates of cancer, we have a toxic burden that we carry for global addiction. [for fossil fuel] on our shoulders.
Enbridge infrastructure was responsible for 1,276 liquid spills between 1996 and 2014, totaling 9,423,708 US gallons, causing damaging environmental and safety issues.
“Pipelines always almost inevitably break. Oil sands are particularly harmful; it’s stuffed with chemicals to keep it liquid, ”Miller said.
Aliva Arredando, a climate and indigenous rights activist who spoke during the climate strike on the UW-Madison campus, said: “Enbridge can’t promise these pipelines won’t spread. not. They go. And this is detrimental because it is built on hundreds of acres of Anishnaabe tribes. It will ruin their way of life.
According to MN350, a Minnesota-based climate change movement, Pipeline 3 is expected to double the throughput of the old pipeline as it will replace up to an additional 370,000 barrels of oil per day. The additional oil carried on Line 3 is equivalent to the total daily CO2 emissions of 16 to 18 million cars for each year of pipeline operation. Line 3 has an estimated cost to society of $ 287 billion in climate change damage over the next 30 years.
Protests against the pipeline
Alivia Arredando visited two Pipeline 3 protest camps last winter in Palace, Minnesota.
“It was all run by native women and it was all very enigmatic… They told us what to do if you got arrested and gave us personal bail information so they could bail you out” , she described.
The protests against the pipeline have been primarily led by women from indigenous tribes, a group that is also disproportionately abused. Claire Cambray, a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has been involved in protests against Line 3 over the past year.
“When there is [are] pipelines has built full Indigenous camps, men’s camps where workers live become hotspots for violence against women, trans and non-binary people. There has been an increase in the number of missing and murdered indigenous women in the region, ”she said.
There are several protest camps along Pipeline 3, as well as protests in urban areas, such as the Twin Cities, to raise awareness of the problem, Cambray said. In March, Cambray attended a protest in which more than a hundred people came from the Twin Cities and from different parts of the country. Iconic indigenous water conservationists including Winona LaDuke and Tara Houska spoke at the event.
“I had tears in my eyes because of the way they talked about the land and seeing the people who had come,” Cambray recalls. Cambray was convinced to get involved in the pipeline protests after learning that Line 3 was Enbridge’s last pipeline project underway.
“Hearing people say this was a key battle makes it seem like it’s a turning point,” Cambray said.
Alternatives to the pipeline
The Enbridge website states that the pipeline is essential to deliver the crude oil needed by refiners and used by residents; and that construction will create 8,600 jobs. Enbridge also says the project will give Minnesota’s economy a $ 2 billion boost during design and construction, with $ 1.5 billion coming from Enbridge alone.
In response to such demands for the pipeline, Sirkka Miller replied that “there are so many other ways to create jobs. We need to recognize that the federal government has the power to invest in green jobs, but it is not a priority. Instead, they turn to the manufacture of fossil fuels and coal. “
According to Miller, the focus should be on producing renewable energy for which the technology is already available.
“Just because we’re addicted to this level of fossil fuel consumption now doesn’t mean we always have to be,” Miller explained optimistically.
The question now is whether Pipeline 3 will continue construction or whether the presidential administration will heed the appeals of popular protests and intervene again.
“Pipeline 3 is the last chance to exit the Alberta tar sands. It is the largest project in history in terms of the quantity of oil transported. If it were to be shot, it would be the end of the oil sands industry, ”Miller said.
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