The long, exhausting battle against Enbridge for our lands and water


By Winona LaDuke

Enbridge’s 7-year battle for a new pipe line has worn us all thin. We have poured out by the thousands, over 68,000 people went to testify against the Enbridge tar sands pipeline. We have driven thousands of miles. We have cried, talked about how much we love our water, and we have faced gauntlets of police. We’ve been turned away by state officials. We’ve seen our prayers for a system (which is supposed to work for the people, not the corporations) trampled. That’s Enbridge’s Line 3 Battle.

Here we are in 2020 and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Enbridge are still trying to shove a pipe down our throats – through 44 wild rice watersheds, crossing the Mississippi, and all to bring the dirtiest oil in the world to some tankers and sell this stuff overseas. It’s called regulatory exhaustion.

In early February, PUC will again review the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) it has modified. This is supposed to talk about the actual impact of putting the equivalent of 50 new coal-fired power plants on line, using 400 more megawatts of power to move some sludge across the north, and poisoning the fragile social graces of the north, by encouraging racism, Indian hating, and threats.

The PUC was court-ordered last June to fix this EIS by including the impact of a possible oil spill on Lake Superior and the Lake Superior Watershed. The company and PUC have come back with a very light-handed statement. More people testified last month in Duluth about why this supplemental environmental impact statement was faulty.

Then in January, the Appeals Court also told the PUC that it must do an environmental impact statement for the Nemadji Trail Energy Center, a core part of new power needs for the new pipeline.

It would appear that the PUC perceives it can just approve projects without a rigorous environmental assessment, because this is the third time that PUC has been court ordered to do a statement prior to approving a project: It failed to prepare an EIS for the proposed Sandpiper crude oil pipeline; it failed to prepare an adequate EIS for Line 3; and it failed to conduct an environmental review for Nemadji Trail Energy Center.

In early February, PUC will likely approve this EIS again, and the certificate of need for the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, as well as the route. This forces the White Earth, Red Lake and Mille Lacs bands of Ojibwe to sue the PUC again. This forces more tribal members and Minnesota citizens to file lawsuits and attend court, to make sure that the state of Minnesota does something right for the people.

It should matter that 500 religious leaders sent a letter to the Governor saying that this pipeline is wrong for Mother Earth, as well as the people. As Australia and the Amazon burn, it’s time to do the right thing for future generations, not for a Canadian pipeline company.