by Abbie Thomas
The Line 3 pipeline expansion project controlled by Enbridge has been the talk of the town in northern Minnesota. With the recent approval to push the expansion forward, protesters have begun sitting in trenches to halt construction, and with good reason. Now, some of you may be recalling, who is Enbridge, what the heck is Line 3 and why should I care? I would like to shed some light on these questions, and simultaneously start or (restart) the conversation in central Minnesota on the negative economic, environmental and personal impact Line 3 will have.
Enbridge is a Canadian energy infrastructure company that is responsible for six very old pipelines in northern Minnesota. These lines stretch from Alberta, Canada to Superior Wisconsin, and one of the lines is called Line 3. This particular pipeline was built in the 1960’s and has a reputation. In 1991 it ruptured, spilling 1.7-million gallons of oil just outside Grand Rapids. This was the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history, and by pure luck, the oil did not leak into the Mississippi River.
Due to the 900 structural anomalies in the “old” Line 3, Enbridge is moving forward with their “replacement project” of Line 3. Though, it is not a replacement at all. Enbridge is simply abandoning the old line, building a brand-new pipeline, in a brand-new corridor, doubling the capacity of the line, and switching to tar sands.
Now comes the part about why I care and why you should care. First, we must have a realistic lens about climate change and the economic need of tar sands. Tar sands is the dirtiest fuel source in the world and is an industry that is dying quickly. It is more expensive to extract, compared to conventional oil, and according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, it is simply not needed in Minnesota refineries. Climate change is a huge factor to consider when fighting against Line 3. I have noticed in Minnesota alone, this year’s winter has been the warmest I can remember. I ask myself where the many days of negative numbers are that we usually get around these months? In a time of climate crisis, I urge you to reconsider a new fossil fuel infrastructure, especially when the new Line 3 will emit the same amount of carbon as 50 coal-fired power plants. Not only is this pipeline simply not needed, but it also creates fewer jobs than if we were to put our resources toward renewable energy.
Secondly, Minnesota is known for its beautiful bodies of water. I am a frequent hiker and visitor to many of them. This pipeline will damage that remarkable beauty. Laura Bishop from the Environmental Justice Advisory Group seconds the Line 3 pipeline will inevitably poison wetlands, wild rice beds and rivers due to unavoidable corrosion and cracking.
We need immediate pushback and loud protests against Line 3 to protect Minnesota waters and the people who value them, especially the Anishinaabe people. They are threatened by the new route and what it has in store for our environment, nothing good I may add. Along with the issues listed above, the Line 3 route also violates treaty rights; Native people are being silenced throughout this process. The results of this silence are women, children and families sitting in the trenches fighting for Minnesota land. They are not resisting, but simply making a statement that there is something to fight for.
Our Legislature and Congress are in session. Let’s make our voices heard. I urge you to search the website below and sign the petition to stop the Line 3 pipeline expansion and save Minnesota waters. https://www.stopline3.org/news/bi3den-stopline.
Abbie Thomas is from St. Joseph. She is a student at University of Minnesota Duluth who will be graduating spring 2021 with a degree in social work.