Mass protests could fol­low ap­proval for work on Line 3

Wisconsin Gazette - - Editorial -

“They have got­ten their Stand­ing Rock,” Wi­nona LaDuke, founder of Honor the Earth, said af­ter Min­nesota reg­u­la­tors ap­proved a pro­posal to re­place En­bridge En­ergy’s Line 3 oil pipe­line in Min­nesota.

LaDuke vowed to chal­lenge En­bridge us­ing ev­ery reg­u­la­tory means pos­si­ble, as well as mass protests if needed.

“What I will tell you is we are not back­ing down,” LaDuke said. “We are here, we will stand here be­cause we have been here for 10,000 years. We’re the home team, and we’re not go­ing any­where.”

She and oth­ers raised the threat of mass protests af­ter the Min­nesota Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion voted June 28 to award a cer­tifi­cate of need for the higher-ca­pac­ity re­place­ment line, as well as En­bridge’s pre­ferred route, which crosses land cov­ered by an 1855 treaty be­tween the Anishi­naabe peo­ple and the U.S. govern­ment.

En­bridge has said it needs to re­place the pipe­line be­cause it’s in­creas­ingly sub­ject to cor­ro­sion and crack­ing.

En­bridge pres­i­dent and CEO Al Monaca, in a state­ment June 28, said re­plac­ing Line 3 is “first and fore­most about the safety and in­tegrity of this crit­i­cal en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture.”

And com­mis­sion­ers, dur­ing dis­cus­sion be­fore the vote, ex­pressed con­cern for the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tion of the pipe­line, which runs from Al­berta, Canada, across North Dakota and Min­nesota to En­bridge’s ter­mi­nal in Su­pe­rior, Wis­con­sin.

De­bate on re­place­ment has fo­cused on whether Mid­west re­finer­ies need the ex­tra oil, the en­vi­ron­men­tal con­se­quences of spills and tribal rights and re­sources.

Op­po­nents say the pipe­line, which will carry tar sands oil from the Athabasca River Basin in Al­berta, risks spills in frag­ile ar­eas, in­clud­ing where Amer­i­can In­di­ans har­vest wild rice. Ojibwe In­di­ans, or Anishi­naabe, con­sider wild rice sa­cred and cen­tral to their cul­ture.

Na­tive Amer­i­can lead­ers have threat­ened a re­peat of the protests on the Stand­ing Rock Reser­va­tion against the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line, in which En­bridge owns a stake. Those protests in 2016 and 2017 re­sulted in some­times vi­o­lent skir­mishes with law en­force­ment and more than 700 ar­rests.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal group Green­peace, in a state­ment, said, “The pow­er­ful, in­dige­nous-led move­ment against pipe­lines has stopped pipe­lines be­fore and, to­gether, we will do so again.

“Let this serve as a warn­ing to the banks and com­pa­nies back­ing these de­struc­tive projects: Oil pipe­lines that threaten wa­ter, vi­o­late in­dige­nous rights and put the en­vi­ron­ment at risk of oil spills — in­clud­ing Line 3, Key­stone XL and the Trans Moun­tain Ex­pan­sion pipe­line — will con­tinue to face grow­ing re­sis­tance.”

Bill McKibben, co-founder of the 350.org en­vi­ron­men­tal group, said, “For too many cen­turies the peo­ple who run Amer­ica have ig­nored its orig­i­nal in­hab­i­tants and, for too many decades, they’ve ig­nored its cli­mate sci­en­tists. Line 3 is an in­te­gral part of the global warm­ing ma­chine and with the lead­er­ship of in­dige­nous peo­ples across the re­gion we will keep fight­ing it.”

The strength of the op­po­si­tion guar­an­tees a court bat­tle.

En­bridge has said it would con­tinue to run Line 3 for at least 11 years if the com­mis­sion re­jected its pro­posal and that it can do so safely de­spite the pipe­line’s ac­cel­er­at­ing main­te­nance needs.

Ap­peals of the com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sions go to the Min­nesota Court of Ap­peals. The Min­nesota Leg­is­la­ture also could in­ter­vene when it re­con­venes next year.

In ad­di­tion to the chal­lenges from Na­tive Amer­i­can and cli­mate change ac­tivists, the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Com­merce found there is no need for the re­place­ment line, de­ter­min­ing the de­mand for oil and petroleum prod­ucts will fall as peo­ple switch to elec­tric cars and re­new­able en­ergy sources.

Also, an ad­min­is­tra­tive law judge, based on the tes­ti­mony of more than 68,000 peo­ple, rec­om­mended against is­su­ing a per­mit for a new route.

WiG writer Lisa Neff and AP writer Steve Karnowski con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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