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The Dangers of Line 3

What is Line 3, and when will we end the trend of participating in the detriment of Indigenous people and their territories?
Photograph of Line 3 pipeline in Wisconsin

Line 3 was proposed in 2014 by Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company responsible for the largest Inland oil spill in the US. Enbridge seeks to build a new pipeline Corridor through untouched wetlands and the treaty territory of Anishinaabe peoples, through the Mississippi River Headwaters to the shore of Lake Superior. This pipeline touches upon many sociopolitical issues that we care about. Line 3 isn't about safe transportation of a necessary product; it's about expansion of a dying tar sands industry. Line 3 would contribute more to climate change the Minnesota's entire economy. Minnesota's own Department of Commerce found their local market does not need line 3 oil. We need to decommission the old line 3 and justly transition to a renewable, sustainable economy. It is well past time to end the legacy of theft from and destruction of indigenous peoples and territories.


If you care about climate change, this line is going to devastate a bunch of ecosystems and they're also getting resources that are not sustainable and are bad for the environment. Line 3 will deliver oil from Alberta's tar sands - a thick, dense substance called bitumen- which is more expensive, more difficult, and even worse for the environment to extract than other forms of oil. Concerns about oil spills are understandable.

Footage Shot of 1991 Pipeline Leak

In 1991, the original Line 3 pipeline leaked 1.7 million barrels of crude oil into the nearby Prairie River in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Luckily, it was the dead of winter and the river was covered by thick ice, which prevented the oil from entering and polluting the water used by millions of people downstream on the Mississippi River.


If you care about Indigenous people and colonization, they are violating a bunch of treaties and once again, just doing whatever they want on Indigenous lands to the detriment of Indigenous people. The proposed route for the new line 3 pipeline would cross through that protected land. Several Ojibwe communities have said that construction of the pipeline would violate treaty rights by disrupting and threatening the resources promised to them on their ancestral land. The Environmental Impact Statement acknowledges that construction of line 3 would disrupt native historic and cultural sites such as burial grounds. However, a complete Traditional Cultural Properties Survey has not been conducted on the proposed route.

Photograph of a Line 3 Protest

If you care about police brutality, they are arresting a bunch of water protectors and really roughing them up with helicopters and LRAD (sonar devices), as well as tear gas and are upset that they won't get reimbursed but are getting a reimbursement from a line company called Enbridge who is paying the police to be there. These police have been arresting activists and appeared to use a crowd dispersing Sonic device at the line 3 pipeline in Minnesota which could carry oil across sensitive waterways and tribal lands. The police later escalated their attempt to end the protest using another Sonic device called in LRAD, or Long Range Acoustic Device, on the protesters, and using bolt cutters and saws to cut people loose from the equipment they had chained themselves to. The local police had earlier dispatched a helicopter to try to disperse the crowd at the pump station, picking up clouds of dust. It was widely understood- and a particular source of frustration- that so-called less lethal munitions, such as tear gas, would not be reimbursed through the account.

Photograph of Kelly Lake, Carlton County Sheriff

Carlton County police sheriff, Kelly Lake, noted:

"We do know for absolute certain that Munitions will not be an allowable expense."

As part of its permit to build line three, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, or PUC, created a special Enbridge- funded account that Public Safety officials could use to pay for policing Enbridge’s political opponents. The police were concerned about who State officials would hire to decide which invoices to pay or reject.


If you care about gender-based violence and sexual assault, these workers that are coming to build the line their arrivals cause the increasing rate in sexual assault. While oil pipelines like line 3 are being built, the construction workers stay in concentrated, temporary housing along the route, often known as "man camps." The high wages and social isolation in man camps lead to increased drug use, as well as violence perpetrated by employees in the surrounding native communities. The environmental impact statement online 3 acknowledges that connection as well, saying:

"The addition of a temporary, cash-rich Workforce increases the likelihood that sex trafficking or sexual abuse will occur."

We can keep organizing, educating, and advocating to stop line 3 and build the future we want. Legal and Grassroots efforts have kept Enbridge's Line 3 destruction at bay; it was supposed to be complete in 2017. Advocates worldwide are holding events in their own homes, community centers, churches, schools and online. They're talking to politicians, speaking up at hearings, marching in protest, taking nonviolent direct action as a community and reporting Enbridge’s activity along the proposed route. They are teaching and learning from one another. Growing food and investing in renewable energy. Wherever you are and whatever your occupation, there is a role you play in the movement stop Line 3. To read more upon this issue, please visit the official stopline3 website listed in the sources.


 

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