Anti-Pipeline Protesters in the Great Lakes Region Shut Down Valves for the Line 5 Pipeline

cross-posted from Anarchist Federation News

Anti-pipeline activists took credit for shutting down “2 different pipeline valves…along the Line 5” pipeline route in the Great Lakes region. According to Unicorn Riot, this latest act of sabotage is part of an ongoing push against pipelines in the so-called Midwest:

“The Line 5 pipeline was built in 1953, stretches for 645 miles and is operated by Canadian oil giant Enbridge. From western to eastern Canada, it transports up to 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily. Although 90 percent of the oil is delivered to Canada, the pipeline cuts across Wisconsin and Michigan. The total pipeline system transports 2.85 million barrels of oil per day (Barrels Per Day – one barrel = 42 U.S. gallons) which is 119,700,000 gallons per day.

Since Line 5 became operational in 1968, the pipeline has spilled at least 1.1 million gallons of oil along its route in at least 33 spills, according to the Michigan Environmental Council.

In addition to crossing hundreds of interconnected waters, Line 5 crosses treaty-reserved territory of tribal nations such as the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan and the Mashkiiziibii, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin.

With 84 percent of North America’s surface freshwater contained in the Great Lakes, Line 5 poses a direct threat to these lakes. The Great Lakes include Lake Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario; Lake Superior, which borders Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada, was the site of genocidal acts against the Indigenous populations by the U.S. Government.”

The communique posted to Unsalted Counter-Info read:

“It is with a heavy heart and hazy skies we announce that 2 different pipeline valves were turned off along the Line 5 route on Anishinaabae land in the great lakes region. This was done on the 13th anniversary of the Kalamazoo River oil spill.This was the 2nd largest inland oil spill in amerikkkan history, dumping 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil into the river and causing untold damage to the water, land and those who live on it.

Currently, Enbridge is preparing to construct a concrete tunnel beneath the waters of the so-called Great Lakes to house a dual pipeline system in order to increase flow rates and carry even more tar sands from the lands of the north to refineries in the south.The Straits tunnel project is meant to replace a 70 year old pipe that is hastily secured to the bottom of the lake bed, even free floating in some areas.

Enbridge claims that the tunnel is safe, but a tunnel project beneath the straits is a resource intensive project. The tar sands would continue to be extracted, desecrating the land in northern geographies. The refineries in the south still pumping out toxic fumes that pollute nearby Black neighborhoods. The camps of workers near both the straits and the Bad River reroute still disappearing Indigenous women and relatives.The companies that rely on Enbridge oil still operating in the towns and cities, underpaying workers and enacting anti-Black and anti-Indigenous violence in nearby communities.The tunnel itself, bored through the bedrock beneath the water, containing two high-volume pipelines transporting millions of barrels of oil monthly, operated by a company with a long history of environmental catastrophe.

It’s easy to turn a valve….For us, we found it incredibly important to call the emergency Enbridge number listed on the facility and tell them we were shutting off the valve. The engineer on the other side of the line sounded very panicked, and immediately shut off flow to the entirety of Line 5. We did this 5 minutes before actually turning the valve, to ensure that the shut down would happen safely; obviously oil spills aren’t something we want to happen as a result of our actions.

In order to protect the water, the land and all the relatives that live on it, companies like Enbridge must stop extractive projects like tar sands. They must stop the flow of oil, because all of our lives depend on it.

And if they don’t, we will..”

Enbridge has a long history of working directly with local police to wage a counter-insurgency campaign against anti-pipeline organizers. As The Guardian reported:

“Canadian company Enbridge has reimbursed US police $2.4m for arresting and surveilling hundreds of demonstrators who oppose construction of its Line 3 pipeline, according to documents the Guardian obtained through a public records request.

Enbridge has paid for officer training, police surveillance of demonstrators, officer wages, overtime, benefits, meals, hotels and equipment.

Enbridge is replacing the Line 3 pipeline through Minnesota to carry oil from Alberta to the tip of Lake Superior in Wisconsin. The new pipeline carries a heavy oil called bitumen, doubles the capacity of the original to 760,000 barrels a day and carves a new route through pristine wetlands. A report by the climate action group MN350 says the expanded pipeline will emit the equivalent greenhouse gases of 50 coal power plants.”

Protests and legal challenges against the aging Line 5 pipeline continue, with many impacted communities calling for the pipeline to be completely shut down.

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