Story at a glance:
- The Line 3 pipeline, if expanded, would connect through Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada .
- The pipeline is being replaced and rebuilt along a new route, crossing rivers, lakes and wetlands.
- Native American activists and environmental advocates are protesting against the new development of the pipeline.
On the heels of the Biden administration officially shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline, environmental and Indiginous rights advocates are now turning to the Mississippi River — where the construction of the “new” Line 3 pipeline has sparked conflict over conservation efforts and Indiginous treaty rights.
The proposed changes to the Line 3 pipeline would update its crumbling 52-year-old infrastructure and expand its reach to move crude oil from Alberta, Canada, through Minnesota and Wisconsin. The pipeline would be replaced and rebuilt along a new route.
Protesters argue that, on top of expanding oil production at a critical time to lower greenhouse gasses, the pipeline would also cross over rivers, lakes and wetlands, leaving these ecosystems vulnerable to spills, The Guardian reports. Activists also say that President Biden could step in to stop the expansion and fulfill his promises on climate change and sustainability.
Native American activists and other protesters say the expansion also challenges land agreements and the right to hunt, fish, gather wild rice and preserve cultural resources for Ojibwe people, The Guardian reports. The Canadian company Enbridge wants to access protected land.
Enbridge says the project would fix pinhole leaks and cracks.
Notably, “water protectors” — Native Americans and allies who resist fossil fuels and oil pipelines — are joining protesters from around the country to try to stop the updated Line 3, according to The Guardian.
“Our local state and federal governments are violating treaties by allowing this pipeline to go through,” Nancy Beaulieu, an Ojibwe woman and the co-founder of the Rise coalition, told The Guardian.
Dawn Goodwin, the other founder of the Rise coalition, formed a campsite in northern Minnesota, protesting with dozens of others on the new construction of the Line 3 pipeline.
“We’re here to make the stand for all living things,” Beaulieu said.
“Consider the drought that we’re in,” Beaulieu told The Guardian. “Our water levels are very low already.”
Enbridge told Vox earlier this year it has conducted studies and received the necessary permits for the Line 3 replacement, adding that modifications have been made to minimize its environmental impact.
Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner told Vox in an email that Line 3’s replacement is “the most studied pipeline project in Minnesota history” and the process has included “more than 70 public hearings, a 13,500-page Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), four separate reviews by independent administrative law judges, and 320 route modifications in response to stakeholder input and reviews and approvals.”
The Line 3 pipeline has had a history of spills. In 1991, a section of the pipeline ruptured near Grand Rapids, Minn., and caused the biggest U.S. oil spill in history at that time, Grist reported. In 2010, A rupture in the pipeline also spilled about 840,000 gallons of oil on the Kalamazoo River.
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