Indian Country is Divided on Mining Coal, Drilling for Oil; More Clashes Ahead

Many Native nations united to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline because of its impact on Mother Earth and its threat to sacred water. But Indian Country is divided on fossil fuel development. Some tribes are mining coal and extracting gas as a source of jobs, income, and autonomy.

That said, Native rights will continue to clash with energy companies’ expansion plans and Trump administration energy policies.

Continue reading

Weekend Reading: The True Story of Pocahontas; Federal Bill Introduced on Native Children’s Trauma; Tribes Backing Gorsuch; and More

Here is this week’s offerings:

  • The ugly truth about the Pocahontas story.
  • U.S. Sen. Al Franken joins two other Midwest Senators to author a bill to heal the trauma suffered by Native children.
  • Tribes are supporting Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Supreme Court, because he has shown he understands Indian law.
  • Star Tribune oil pipeline story misses key local angle.

Continue reading

As DAPL Construction is on Fast Track, Minnesota and Texas Also Face Pipeline Threats

“Energy Transfer Partners has finished drilling under Lake Oahe and will soon be laying pipe under the Missouri River reservoir,” according to a story by Minnesota Public Radio. As legal challenges to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) linger in court, the oil could start flowing in two weeks.

Meanwhile, Native peoples in West Texas are trying to stop an Energy Transfer Partners natural gas pipeline project that crosses under the Rio Grande. Minnesotans are gearing up to stop a proposed pipeline expansion that would increase the flow of high-polluting tar sands through the state.

Continue reading

Minnesota Faces its Own Pipeline Battle: Enbridge Line 3

Minnesota is about to face a pipeline battle that could be similar to what we have seen just west of us with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The project is called Enbridge Line 3, and while technically it is being called a “replacement project,” Enbridge is proposing it follow a new route for much of its path in Minnesota.

Currently, Line 3 carries tar sands from Alberta, Canada to Duluth/Superior, entering the state near the northwest corner. The line is old and leaky. The proposed new route would turn south near Clearbrook and take a more southerly route to Superior. It also would increase carrying capacity.

These oil pipeline projects seem to put a disproportionate burden on Native peoples. Both the old Line 3 route and the new route cross treaty protected lands in Minnesota. Honor the Earth, a group dedicated to creating awareness and support for Native environmental issues, developed a Fact Sheet (with a map) on Line 3. It starts out:

Similar in size and purpose to the recently defeated Keystone XL pipeline, Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline is proposed to transport tar sands oil over 1000 miles, from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, through the heart of Anishinaabe territory and some of the best lakes and wild rice beds in the world. …

For us, on the White Earth reservation in northwestern Minnesota, these pipelines threaten our community, and our way of life. These lines would cross pristine aquatic ecosystems. This land and this water are precious and they are endangered.

Line 3 hasn’t got much attention compared to DAPL. That could change this spring when the state issues the Environmental Impact Statement on the project. That will trigger a round of public comment and more activism.

There are several upcoming events to learn more about DAPL and Enbridge Line 3.

Continue reading

Native and Environmental Activists Scuttle One Oil Pipeline Project through Northern Minnesota, Another Proposal Remains

Native American and environmental activists appear to have scored a major victory in blocking Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper pipeline that would have carried crude oil from the North Dakota fracking fields to Duluth/Superior.

Activists succeeded in raising concerns and delaying the project. The project’s financial backers now are seeking a different route. Enbridge Inc. and Marathon Petroleum are now investing in the Bakken Pipeline System that will route oil through North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa to get to Illinois.

Honor the Earth, a Native-led group started by Winona LaDuke, played a key role in stopping the Sandpiper project. LaDuke issued a statement on the group’s website about the latest news.

As the people who would be most impacted by these projects, we are of course very happy to hear this news. For four years our community has said Gaawiin, NO – from the wild rice harvesters to the tribal governments. For four years we have had ceremonies to stop this pipeline. We’ve also fought in the courts, in regulatory hearings, in the media, in the streets, and on the land. It is important to acknowledge and celebrate this victory. When we stand up we are so powerful. But it is a bittersweet victory, for while we have won the battle, the war remains. The black snake is a hydra – cut off one head and 2 more will emerge.

That said, this is a complicated project, and environmental battles are not over.

Continue reading