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Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapter concerned Line 3 pipeline threatens the Qu’Appelle Watershed

The Council of Canadians Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapter in Saskatchewan is opposed to the Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

On November 29, 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government’s approval of the 760,000 barrel per day pipeline.

If not stopped, the Calgary-based Enbridge Line 3 pipeline would mean the building of 1,600 kilometres of new pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior Wisconsin, which is situated on the western tip of Lake Superior. The original 390,000 barrel per day Line 3 pipeline was built in 1968 and would be decommissioned and left underground. The new larger pipeline would carry 760,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day and would have the capacity to do so for the next 50-60 years. Enbridge admits the pipeline would mean 19 to 26 megatonnes of upstream greenhouse gas emissions each year. Enbridge wants to replace the entire pipeline by December 2017.

Water concerns

The Qu’Appelle Valley Environmental Association (QVEA) will be discussing at their monthly meeting (on March 8) new information on how the pipeline will impact the Qu’Appelle Watershed.

The QVEA says, “[The pipeline] will crisscross fourteen of our watercourses, including our major rivers – tunneling under the South Saskatchewan River, south of Outlook, and under the Qu’Appelle River, near Bethune.”

The CBC adds, “The proposed new route [in the United States] crosses grasslands in Minnesota and could threaten downstream waterways and violate treaty rights to fish, hunt and gather crops, including wild rice, opponents contend.”

Pipeline spills

The CBC also notes, “In 1999, Line 3 ruptured near Pilot Butte, east of Regina, releasing more than 20,000 barrels of heavy crude oil.”

The QVEA adds, “Husky Oil’s 250,000 litre oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River in 2016 made us all more aware of the threat that pipelines present to our waterways and to our drinking water. The latest major Saskatchewan spill occurred on January 20th, 2017 on Ocean Man First Nations. This 200,000 litre spill involved a Tundra Energy pipeline, which has no record of ever being inspected. A few weeks later, Tundra Energy had yet another oil spill near Storthoaks, southeast of Regina.”

It highlights, “These are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Consultation and Indigenous rights

And it notes, “Saskatchewan citizens were never given the opportunity to scrutinize or approve Line 3. It wasn’t debated in our last provincial election; there was never a social license to proceed. There was never consent from indigenous communities.”

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs along with the Ochapowace, Keeseekoose, George Gordon and Pasqua First Nations in Saskatchewan have all expressed concerns about the pipeline. The Chippewa in Minnesota have also said they will work to stop the pipeline to protect their sacred manoomin (wild rice).

The Council of Canadians first expressed opposition to the building of the new Line 3 pipeline in a March 2014 blog.