Finding hope in water protectors’ recent bleak weeks: Solidarity

The state’s welcoming committee for the ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ event Aug. 25

Let’s be honest. For those who have spent years opposing the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, these last few weeks have been pretty painful.

The Treaties Not Tar Sands rally on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds Aug. 23-26 was met with concrete barricades, fencing, and large law enforcement contingent. It was unnecessary, unwelcoming, and un-American.

The legal avenues closed on efforts to reverse the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Line 3 permits. The Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Line 3 water crossing permit.

Enbridge said all new Line 3 pipeline is in the ground and buried.

There still are lawsuits pending at the federal level to stop Line 3, and to pressure Biden to take action.

Remember, the courts do get things wrong. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-1 to uphold a “Separate but Equal” law.

So far, the courts have got it wrong on Line 3.

The Stop Line 3 campaign will be entering a new phase. I don’t know what that is yet.

I do know Enbridge has less than a decade before it has to move the other five pipelines in its mainline corridor. Its easement to cross the Leech Lake Reservation expires in 2029 and Leech Lake has been clear it wants the pipelines gone.

There’s more work ahead and the movement is getting stronger.

Orange Line: Enbridge Mainline Corridor. Green Line: Route for new Line 3. Enbridge’s easement to cross Leech Lake expires in 2029.

The Aug. 25 Treaties Not Tar Sands rally was inspiring in that included speakers you might not expect to see at such an event. Speakers like Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR (Council of American-Islamic Relations)-MN, Marco Hernandez, Public Policy Director, COPAL (Communities Organizing Latino Power and Action) and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change; and Jigme Ugen, vice president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and
President of the Tibetan National Congress.

It’s going to take a broad coalition to push environmental justice issues such as stopping Line 3. It’s going to take a broad coalition to challenge a system set up to benefit corporations and monied interests, a system that tries to divide regular people by race, class, immigration status, and any other means available.

Our various movements need to support each other, and they have been.

Here are comments by Hussein, Hernandez and Ugen that show that Line 3 isn’t just an Indigenous issue, it’s an issue for anyone who cares about clean water and one that resonates across communities.

Jaylani Hussein

Jaylani Hussein. Photo: Devon Cupery

“We are a state that puts on our license plates we are a Land of 10,000 Lakes but do not care about the water that is in those lakes.

“We are a state that tells the rest of the country that we grow corn, a Native plant, but we do not take care of the Native people who taught us how to grow that damn corn. And we are a state that claims that we have the Boundary Waters, that we have protected it, but we don’t protect it from the mining that is destroying it …

“We are fighting for our existence. We are fighting to protect next generations. We are fighting to protect the water that we’re made of. We are fighting to keep a legacy alive of protecting this land from corporate greed. …”

Hussein then issued a challenge to elected officials who had spoken at the rally earlier.

“If you care about Line 3, go to the White House and stand in front of it like the many people who have been standing on the frontlines of Line 3, and show that you care. …

“If Congresswoman Cori Bush can stay outside on the Capitol steps demanding an end to eviction, then we can have our elected leaders stay outside of the Capitol until we STOP LINE 3.

“And I’m calling out Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who I love. Take the lead. Dean Phillips, where you at? Angie Craig, where you at? Betty McCollum, where you at? Get out of your comfortable zone and tell Biden that Minnesota won’t stand. STOP LINE 3!

Full transcript here.

Marco Hernandez

Marco Hernandez. Photo: Devon Cupery

“The United States sees itself as a leader in every manner. Yet, while claiming to be better than countries south of their border, the U.S. can only pass the blame of the climate crisis to developing countries.

“Because … the people of El Salvador value its water more than mining companies, they banned hard rock mining.

“In Mexico, President Lopez Obrador is drastically decreasing the export of water to breweries crafting beer for the U.S. and rerouting that water to replenish marshes and wetlands.

“The seventh chapter in Ecuador’s Constitution is titled Rights of Nature that establishes Pachamama, or Mother Earth, as a legal entity.

“All of these Latin American countries, and countries outside of the United States, are actively doing something to try to curb the climate crisis while we are just trying to convince our government, our governor, that the Earth is a priority. But no, he just went around and said ‘Let’s ramp this shit up. Let’s expedite the [climate damage] process.’ And that is absolutely wrong, Gov. Walz.

“There is no benefit to supporting a Canadian, multi-national company, and there is no benefit from Line 3.”

Full transcript here.

Jigme Ugen

Jigme Ugen. Photo: Devon Cupery

“As a leader in one of the largest health care union workers, our members know firsthand the impacts of public health risk, and the dangers of tar sands oil to the health and wellness of our future generation. Our health care providers are already seeing the impacts of climate change in the patient, especially in the lower-income areas, from longer and more severe allergy seasons, to increased number of children with asthma, cardiovascular and pulmonary issues recently triggered by the smoke from the fire in Canada, which also was the result of climate change.

“I am a Tibetan refugee. My country, Tibet, was illegally occupied by China. …

“As a Tibetan, I know firsthand the impact of the colonizer, as they assault the land that we worship, our ancient traditions, and threaten our way of life without consent. My people can no longer drink from the local river without fear. …

“Hundreds of my people are tortured and killed. Thousands arrested for speaking out. Under Chinese occupation, my people have been denied the basic rights to determine the use of their own natural resources, which is no different from what we are seeing here.

“Globally, there is an all-out assault on the water that we drink, the air that we breathe, the communities that we live in. We must fight back! …

“We must fight back to save our planet from corporate greed and broken political promises.”

Full transcript here.

Videos of the speakers at the Aug. 25 Treaties Not Tar Sands Rally are available on Native Roots Radio’s Facebook Page. Videos by Devon Cupery.

2 thoughts on “Finding hope in water protectors’ recent bleak weeks: Solidarity

  1. Thank you for summarizing the status of Line 3 and for encouraging hope. If all new pipeline is “in the ground and buried,” what remains for Enbridge to accomplish at this point?

    The environmental damage along the pipeline corridor is considerable and extensive. How are biologists and other environmental scientists characterizing that damage? It must represent a loss of significant, possibly irreplaceable habitat for many species of flora and fauna. I would like to hear more about the environmental impacts of Line 3 and what can be done to mitigate them.


  2. Thanks for all you do to protect our environment. I can’t believe that the people who are supposed to protect our environment are allowing Enbridge to destroy it. They must have deep pockets. Filled with Enbridges money!


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