A government-Enbridge alliance is doing all it can to block Minnesota citizens from observing and critiquing the construction of Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.
Tania Aubid, Winona LaDuke, Shanai Matteson and other water protectors arrived around 7 a.m. this morning at the site where Enbridge is drilling a tunnel for Line 3 under the Willow River in Aitkin County. The water protectors found what appeared to be a “frac-out,” the release of pipeline drilling mud into the river.
The state’s response focused more on trying to intimidate the water protectors for their activism than addressing the frac-out, Matteson said.
It’s a sign of the state’s upside down values. It raises questions about the state’s ability and interest in protecting the environment for future generations and who state agencies are working for.
Early this morning, “dozens of water protectors standing in solidarity with Indigenous-led resistance shut down work at a Line 3 construction site by locking themselves to equipment and building several blockades on access roads,” according to a media release from Honor the Earth and Resist Line 3. “Two people surrounded by flowers locked themselves inside of a vehicle, while two others locked to drilling equipment inside the site.”
Willow River is one of 21 sites where Enbridge is boring a tunnel underneath the river, using a technique called Horizontal Directional Drilling, or HDD. It requires the use of drilling mud to keep the tunnel open.
Those on the ground are concerned that the HDD might have resulted in a “frac out” where the drilling mud escapes the tunnel through cracks in the soil and reaches the surface, in this case Willow River. See this video of water protector Shanai Matteson explaining what’s being seen on the ground and concerns about the drilling mud in the Willow River.
The Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety has already contacted Enbridge about the incident, sources say.
Friday’s bomb scare in Carlton County will be used by some to make water protectors seem dangerous, shifting attention away from real dangers posed by the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.
Water protectors were demonstrating against Line 3 in Carlton County Friday. As the event was happening, the county received a 9-1-1 call reporting a “suspicious device,” the Sheriff’s Office said. A news story called it “a suspicious package thrown into a pipeline construction area.”
The county’s response was quick and perhaps excessive. It called in the bomb squad. Law enforcement evacuated 40 nearby residences within a half-mile radius of the device. Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake called in regional and federal law enforcement. She’s calling for maximum charges and penalties.
There was no bomb. Still, placing a “replica device” that causes fear and panic is a crime.
The incident occurred near Camp Migizi, an Indigenous-led frontline resistance camp, but the protests that day were several miles away from where the incident occurred.
There’s been no information released that ties the incident to Camp Migizi or the protest. There have been no arrests. Yet without evidence, Enbridge and others are blaming water protectors.
More than half of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned today over the agency’s decision to approve a key permit for the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan is distancing herself from Gov. Tim Walz’s support for the project.
The state’s decision to approve Line 3 has polluted the legacy of both Gov. Walz and the MPCA, and shines a spotlight on their hypocrisy.
Enbridge’s aging Line 5 tar sands crude oil pipeline runs through the Bad River Band of Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin. The Band says Enbridge’s lease expired years ago and it wants the pipeline gone. Enbridge looked at rerouting Line 5 off reservation lands and — surprise — the locals in the city of Mellen didn’t want a pipeline, either. Enbridge took a two-pronged approach; it sued the Bad River Band to keep the old Line 5 in place while continuing to pursue a route through Mellen.
The Minnesota Supreme Court today declined to review a case that could have required the state to complete a traditional cultural property survey before it could permit large construction projects such as the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the Minnesota Supreme Court felt more interested in siding with the rights of a Canadian corporation to proceed with a high-risk project than protecting the rights of the Minnesota Anishinabe and indigenous people and the rights of nature,” Winona LaDuke, Co-founder and Executive Director of Honor the Earth said in a statement. Continue reading →
A few years ago I saw the powerful indigenous-made documentary Red Power Energy. It highlighted Indian Country’s divergent views on mining and resource management. It featured Native Nations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Some Nations were mining coal and drilling oil as part of their economic development plans. Others rejected resource extraction in favor of sustainable wind farms and solar arrays.
I recalled that film when I read the latest news out of Canada on the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. An indigenous-led group called “Project Reconciliation” is proposing to buy a majority stake in the pipeline. They are calling it the “Reconciliation Pipeline,” and using the tagline: “There’s a pipeline to reconciliation. We should take it.” According to its website:
Through majority Indigenous ownership, it [the pipeline] can improve Indigenous lives throughout the West. How? By returning profits made from shipping resources to market to the traditional owners of the land from which those resources came.