In a year that started as a sad reminder of what 2020 was, there are some battles for the environment that have been dragged for quite a few years. The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline Project keeps advancing even though there is fierce resistance and court issues to be resolved.
The Enbridge Line 3 It’s the largest pipeline project in Enbridge’s history, with a total cost rounding $9 billion and covering 1,600 kilometres. Starting in Alberta, Canada, Line 3 spreads all across the border into the USA - through Minnesota all the way to Lake Superior, to the city of Superior, Wisconsin. Canadian construction was approved in 2016, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, and completed in 2019.
In the US, indigenous activists have protested the project since 2018, allegedly starting in the Spirit of the Buffalo prayer camp near Gretna, meters away from the Canada-U.S. border. The resistance held strong until the camp closed after a fire during the pandemic.
Activists demand "Enbridge stop building the pipeline because it does not have free, prior and informed consent of all Indigenous peoples along the route, and is a direct violation of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Rights."
From the beginning, Enbridge’s plans were opposed by Indigenous water protectors worried about potential oil spills from the new project. The carbon impact, which is the equivalent to building 50 new coal plants was a major red flag to be considered as well. However, in late November, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved key permits, allowing Enbridge to begin work on December 1st.
“Even if this pipeline miraculously never leaks, it will still be responsible for staggering amounts of greenhouse gases,” U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar said during an online rally against Line 3 attended by around 1,000 people. “Minnesota has made some great commitments to increasing renewable energy usage across the state, but Line 3 alone would undo all that progress and make it impossible to meet our climate goals.”
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In Canada the Line 3 has been proposed as a "safety" replacement for a faulty and aging pipeline, that’s not the situation in Minnesota. In that state, the old pipe is being abandoned and a new 500 km route is being built.
The new route crosses roughly 300 kilometres of lands under treaties with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, White Earth Band, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (as well as other, affiliated Ojibwa nations).
Activists there say the project will destroy hunting and fishing territories and hundreds of sacred wild rice areas, violating Indigenous cultural and land rights.
"This new route threatens not only the most important and delicate soils, aquifers, and lakes in Minnesota," White Earth member and activist Winona LaDuke said, "but the Great Lakes, home to one-fifth of the world’s fresh water."
Another method at winning this battle for our planet’s future, according to Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) a tribal attorney, a land defender, a water protector, a sundancer and a former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders, and a steering committee member of Stop The Money Pipeline - the biggest issue is to find ways defunding the fossil fuel infrastructure by moving their money from financial institutions that fund fossil fuel development.
Stop The Money Pipeline is demanding banks, asset managers, insurance companies, institutional investors stop funding, and private citizens stop insuring and investing in climate destruction.
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