The University of Winnipeg Students Association hosted a fantastic event on the Line 3 pipeline on March 11th. It featured inspiring speakers Winona Laduke, environmentalist and economist from Honor the Earth, as well as Joelle Pastora Sala and Allison Fenske, counsel to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs regarding Line 3 Judicial Review. Line 3 is an export pipeline proposed by Enbridge which would run from Hardisty, Alberta through Saskatchewan and Manitoba to the States. Drawing mostly from these wonderful presentations, we can gather 10 key points about the Line 3 pipeline.
The problem with Line 3
1. Instead of Trump’s pipeline plans, let’s imagine the Sitting Bull Plan from the Chief at Standing Rock
What would the Sitting Bull Plan look like? Winona Laduke encourages us: “Let us put our minds together for the future of our children”.
In response to Trump’s "Make America Great Again", Winona explains that America was great; with 8,000 varieties of corn, 50 million buffalo, when there were no drinking water advisories and people could drink and swim in the lakes and rivers. America is still great in some ways; we need to reaffirm the covenant to protect water.
2. Enbridge spills are among the worst in history and the pipeline could bring major risks to water.
Many people know about the massive Kalamazoo spill. Less known is the spill in 1991 which spilled 1.3 million gallons.
Line 3 has its own history of spills, noted by Megan Linton, from Pipeline Free, a group who came together when Trudeau approved the Kinder Morgan and Line 3 pipelines, including 20 000 barrels spilled in 1999 East of Regina, an explosion in 2007 in Minnesota where 2 workers were killed, and 4000 barrels spilled in 2010 in North Dakota.
3. We’re not against pipelines, some pipelines that bring water to our communities are great! Oil pipelines, not so much.
Winona Laduke explains that she is not opposed to pipelines! Some water pipelines are great, she wishes there were more communities with inadequate infrastructure for drinking water. Flint Michigan needs pipelines!
4. Line 3 is a massive project that is actually an expansion, not just a replacement.
Allison Fensky, legal counsel for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, points out that Line 3 is the largest project in Enbridge’s history. Enbridge’s plan is to build a new pipeline of 36 inches in diametre, the same size as Keystone, so that it could carry both light and heavy oil.
Opposition is building
5. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs launched a legal challenge against it based not only on concerns with the pipeline, but also because it is a fundamentally an unfair process.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) has launched a legal challenge against Line 3 which was granted January 31st, and their expected hearing date is in early 2018. The AMC finds that the National Energy Board process is flawed, and is failing to hear them, including no cross-examinations and only meeting in a colonial space rather than coming to turtle lodge.
6. Elders and Indigenous knowledge keepers are concerned about Line 3
Joelle Pastora Sala, Legal counsel from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, explains that their position comes from elders and knowledge keepers who came together at Turtle Lodge to draft Ogichi Tibakonigaywin, Kihche’othasowewin, Tako Wakan: The Great Binding Law which shares that mother earth is sacred and that we all have a responsibility to care for her. Elders are concerned about the impact of Line 3 on the earth, as well as that Line 3 would harm relations between Indigenous Peoples and the crown.
7. The economics of Line 3 don’t work - governments are approving pipelines that we don’t have oil for
Winona cited a Globe and Mail article that explained that in approving Trans Mountain, Line 3, and Keystone, there actually is not enough oil for these pipelines. Why is the government investing billions on stranded assets, when so many communities don’t have adequate drinking water? By 2025, due to climate policy, there will be no further growth in the tar sands.
Shell recently sold its stake in Alberta’s tar sands. Of the top 3 U.S. oil companies, profits went from 80.4$ billion in 2011 to 16.3$ billion in 2015 to 3.7 billion in 2016.
8. Line 3 is part of an unhealthy extreme energy addiction we can overcome
Winona compares our the extreme use of fossil fuels to an addiction, whereby we know the consequences are harmful, but they continue to be extracted, with companies going to increasingly extreme measures to get oil from the ground like with tar sands extraction and fracking.
I think about the impacts of fossil fuels on climate change and increasing extreme weather events. I think about what the UN has warned is the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945 with millions of people in African countries, with drought making matters much worse.
9. This is part of a movement against fossil fuels, building on standing rock
Thank you to the land defenders who stood up against fossil fuel development and to protect the earth in standing rock. Winona and Honor the Earth were among the groups at Standing Rock. Enbridge invested in what Winona refers to as the Dakota Excess Pipeline at Standing Rock whereby the civil rights of water protectors were violated, including with the use of rubber bullets, dogs, and other intimidation tactics.
Progress is possible!
10. Hope for progress lies in renewable energy and re-localizing food
Winona reminds us that while governments are approving pipelines like Line 3, people’s movements are powerful and it’s possible to stop pipelines and protect the earth. She points to her community which successfully stopped Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper pipeline which would have run through her territory.
It was incredibly inspiring to see a map of renewable energy projects happening around the Line 3 pipeline route. The map was only for the states. What could this look like for Canada? What renewable energy projects are being built and could be built as an alternative to unsustainable fossil fuels pipelines? It was extremely inspiring to see Winona and her community leading by example with their very own solar panel project near her home.
Let’s do this!