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“Expect Resistance!” water protectors warn as Line 3 approved in Minnesota

A water protector in MinnesotaA Line 3 opponent blockading traffic in front of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in downtown St. Paul.

On June 28th, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, which would carry tar sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta to a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. 

Marketed as a replacement for the existing Line 3 pipeline, it actually involves a doubling in capacity from 380,000 barrels per day to 790,000, and is the company’s largest project ever. The new pipeline would also travel a different route for about a third of its path, crossing through Anishinaabe land that is critical for hunting, fishing, and wild rice.

Minnesota was the last jurisdiction needed to give approval to Line 3. In Canada, the project received final approval from the Trudeau government in November 2016 (at the same time as the Trans Mountain pipeline was approved). 

Despite this week’s decision, the pipeline is still far from guaranteed to be built. A bold Indigenous-led movement has built up against the Line 3 pipeline over the past five years in Minnesota, and they are ready to keep fighting. 

The Stop Line 3 campaign summarized some of the immediate reactions to the Commission’s decision: “Tania Aubid, Ogichidaakwe from East Lake, stood up and told the commissioners “You have just declared war on the Ojibwe!,” and Akilah Sanders-Reed of the Youth Climate Intervenors screamed “Shame on you, you cowards!” Brent Murcia of the Youth Climate Intervenors told the commissioners, “This is our future and we will not let this stand.” And Honor the Earth’s Executive Director, Winona LaDuke, posted immediately on facebook that Minnesota now has its Standing Rock, inviting water protectors from across Turtle Island to come stand beside them.” 

There are still many procedural barriers for this people-powered movement to make use of. The Commission has yet to reach agreement on an exact route through Minnesota, and some other details still need to be negotiated with Enbridge. Once that is done, groups can appeal the commission’s decision through the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and the Minnesota Legislature could also intervene when it reconvenes next year (both the governor and representatives are up for re-election this August). A more detailed timeline is available from the Stop Line 3 campaign here

Plus, the anti-pipeline movement already has some support within other branches of the state government — both the Department of Commerce and an Administrative Law Judge made recommendations against approving Enbridge’s proposal. As noted by Winona LaDuke, this is actually the first time the Public Utilities Commission has not followed the recommendations of these entities. 

This fight isn’t over. Here’s how you can help stop Line 3:

  • Follow groups on the ground in MinnesotaCamp Makwa and Honor the Earth are two good places to start. 

  • Get involved in resistance on this side of the border: To get connected with a group working on Line 3 in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta you can email me at prairies-nwt@canadians.org