For the air we breathe,
for the water we drink,
for the places we call home,
we must Stop Line 3.
After years of Indigenous-led resistance, the struggle to stop the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline is entering a new, perhaps final, phase. As construction of the pipeline nears completion—Enbridge having drilled under twenty-two rivers and laid hundreds of miles of pipeline through wetlands and streams—frontline communities including Indigenous leaders, environmental organizations, scientists, and concerned citizens are calling for a massive mobilization to the Minnesota State capitol building on August 25th.
Enbridge, one of the largest fossil-fuel pipeline companies in North America, is expanding their corroding and spill-prone Line 3 pipeline. Line 3 starts in Alberta’s tar sands and travels across the US border and three states, ending in Superior, Wisconsin, where it connects to other oil pipelines, shipping routes through the Great Lakes, and refineries in Chicago. Much like the fight against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, it is a fight on many fronts, against not only multinational corporations but also state repression.
For the air we breathe
In late July, the climate crisis was unignorable for most of the US with 72 percent of Minnesota in severe drought caused by climate change, new heat records being set in the Pacific Northwest, and 86 active large fires, exacerbated by climate change, burning across 12 US states. Smoke from the wildfires contributed to the worst air quality ever recorded in Minnesota, and along with issuing an air quality alert, the MN Pollution Control Agency recommended that individuals do what they can to reduce pollution by conserving energy and buying clean, renewable energy. But this same recommendation was not given for Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion project—which would pollute equivalent to 50 new coal plants operating for 30 to 50 years—and to the giant financial institutions funding it.
For the water we drink
Enbridge itself admits to having at least fifteen major spills on Line 3 since 1990. And the so-called “replacement” pipeline leaves the old and corroding pipeline in the ground as a site of continued contamination as it loses all integrity and leaks in the extensive waterways of northern Minnesota. The largest inland oil spill in US history occurred on Line 3 in remote northern Minnesota in 1991, spilling at least 1.7 million gallons into the Prairie River and surrounding waterways.
Being over fifty years old and operating at less than half capacity, many argue that Line 3 needs to be decommissioned, not expanded. But instead Enbridge is attempting to build a new pipeline carrying over twice as much oil—over 1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day. Additionally, the pipeline would now diverge from its current route to travel over hundreds of additional miles of land and water.
In a recent event hosted by Chicago Against Line 3 at the El Paseo Community Garden, Thomas Frank of Southeast Environmental Task Force explained how Enbridge used the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, which sent over a million gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River, as an excuse to rebuild the Line 6B pipeline and double its capacity. He also brought the fight against Line 3 closer to home as he spoke about the network of pipelines, of which Line 3 is one, that snake their way from the Alberta tar sands to the Whiting refinery in East Chicago, where 16.8 million gallons of oil were discovered in the water table and multiple spills into Lake Michigan have been reported.
For the places we call home
Indigenous activists have been on the frontlines leading the struggle to stop the expansion of Line 3 since it was announced in 2014. With the pipeline threatening two hundred waterways and hundreds of miles of wetlands and wild rice beds that Anishinaabe people depend on for food, Anishinaabe communities have called for a halt to this project, challenging it in court and now on the front lines through protest and civil disobedience. The construction of Line 3 endangers access to hunting rights, wild rice harvests, and access to culturally significant locations enshrined in a series of treaties, most notably the treaties of 1837 and 1855.
Indigenous people also warned state regulators that Line 3 construction and the resulting “man camps” would bring increased sex and drug trafficking to the area, adding to to the existing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives. The Line 3 pipeline is a continuation of the violent settler-colonial project of the United States, and one that has disastrous consequences for all of us.
We must Stop Line 3
As Indigenous water protectors, environmentalists, and scientists from all over the country join forces to stop Line 3, the state is cracking down. Since 2014, over six hundred people have been arrested in northern Minnesota while physically resisting corporate greed and the violation of treaty rights in the fight on the front lines.
Enbridge’s establishment of the Northern Lights Task Force brought together at least eighteen county sheriff’s offices, funding them with a $2 million escrow account to pay for any police-related expenses associated with the pipeline. By incentivizing the arrest, detention, and violent policing of those trying to protect the water and air, Enbridge has effectively bought a share of northern Minnesota’s police force.
Meanwhile, Enbridge is allowed to get away with spilling drilling fluids into rivers, aquifers, and wetlands while keeping secret what those fluids are. Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources, the office charged with monitoring Minnesota’s waterways and any spills by Enbridge, has largely abdicated responsibility for monitoring Enbridge, allowing the company to self-report spills and then clean them up without state oversight. Activists monitoring the waterways where drilling is happening have recorded and reported dozens of spills and are now working to fund their own water sampling as both Enbridge and the state have refused to test the water where spills have happened.
WE MUST STOP LINE 3!
As Enbridge nears completion of the construction of Line 3, the opposition is moving into a new phase. As construction ramped up over the past six months, hundreds of activists were arrested in northern Minnesota blocking construction vehicles, locking down to equipment, and obstructing pipes. Meanwhile Indigenous nations and environmental groups waged a legal battle that has largely been stymied, though new lawsuits continue to move forward.
Enbridge has found friends in the state capitol with the Democratic governor, Tim Walz, and the Democratic-controlled State House supporting the project. While Walz encourages citizens of the state to take action to stop climate chaos, he is the one who is overseeing the implementation of Line 3. He has the power to stop Line 3 in its tracks, yet he refuses to act.
In Chicago, members of Chicago DSA, Rising Tide Chicago, Extinction Rebellion, and the Chicago chapter of the Climate Reality Project teamed up in July to participate in a national week of action called for by Stop the Money Pipeline, aimed at the financial sector that is funding, insuring, and investing in the climate crisis. Major banks—such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, CitiBank and TD Bank―have loaned billions of dollars to Enbridge so it can build Line 3, and are profiting from its construction. Chicago activists engaged in an educational campaign, wheatpasting, chalking and protest action at the Chase headquarters in the Chicago Loop aimed at exposing the insidious connections between big finance and climate change.
Activists on the frontlines in northern Minnesota have called for a second front in the direct action struggle. While some will continue to stand against Enbridge directly along the pipeline route, others will begin a confrontation with the politicians who refuse to act for the good of the people and planet. Hundreds of water protectors left the headwaters of the Mississippi and began a 256-mile trek to the capitol building in Saint Paul. Hoping to exert the power of the movement in the halls of power, activists are calling on all water protectors, climate change activists, and those who will stand up for the treaty rights of Indigenous nations to grab their sleeping bags and join them on August 25th at the Minnesota State Capitol to hold the space for as long as it takes.
Whether the governor and legislature will act in the interest of the people of Minnesota and the planet over the interests of a Canadian fossil fuel company may be decided here. Whether this struggle will advance like the union movement did after the occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol will depend on how many people our side can mobilize to join the encampment and the larger struggle to stop the Line 3 tar sands pipeline.
For the air we breathe, for the water we drink, for the places we call home, join us at the Minnesota State Capitol on August 25th. We must stop Line 3.
Ways to get involved:
Come to St. Paul to take a stand for Treaties Not Tar Sands! Join Chicago socialists for a meeting on Tuesday, August 17th to talk about logistics. Sign up here: bit.ly/CDSAStopLine3
Donate to support the water protectors putting their bodies on the line in northern Minnesota.
Sign up for an orientation call to learn how you can take action in northern Minnesota.