We Canceled Keystone: Now it’s Time to Stop the Line 3 Pipeline

Image credit: Giniw Collective.

cross-posted from Counterpunch

This week, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) announced that they were finally terminating the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) project after over a decade of resistance from the Alberta tar sands to Wall Street to the White House to the Gulf Coast.

It stirs a lot of feelings and memories for me. I’ve devoted myself to climate direct action for over two decades. Half of it, I spent fighting the Keystone XL pipeline. Through my KXL journey, I was arrested sitting-in the White House, recruited tens of thousands to pledge to take action, trained thousands in direct action to disrupt Obama’s approval of the pipeline (hell, I even trained the trainers), supported the environmentalists and landowners that disrupted the construction of the southern leg of the pipeline in Texas (which got built anyway) and generally made elite politicos and Wall Street bankers miserable over it. In 2013, I discovered that TransCanada had compiled a file on me and my friends and traveled to law enforcement along the pipeline route with a PowerPoint telling them that we were terrorists. We also declared victory on KXL more than once.

But, now, it seems it’s finally over. They gave up. We know that organizing, direct action, and resistance work. This win is due to the hard work of Indigenous people up, down and around the route, Nebraska ranchers, Texas landowners, environmentalists, and crusty trouble-makers sitting in trees and chaining themselves to bank branches.

As Dallas Goldtooth from the Indigenous Environmental Network said, “the truest heroes in the victory against KXL are everyday people. Teachers, students, secretaries, singers, historians, bull riders and corn huskers.” None of this is because Obama or Biden did the right thing, it’s because we made them do it.

But even with KXL out of the way, the struggle against oil companies and Wall Street is never truly over, so we enter the fight against another tar sands pipeline-Line 3.

Line 3 will be a 337-mile pipeline that will go from the Alberta tar sands through Minnesota to Superior, WI on Lake Superior. It will carry 700,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day with a carbon footprint equal to 50 new coal-fired power plants. It’ll cross over 200 waterways including the Mississippi River at two different locations. Importantly, it violates treaties that U.S. government has made with Native Nations going back to the 1850s. In Northern Minnesota, the pipeline crosses traditional Anishinaabe and Ojibwe land and wild rice fields.

Enbridge has other pipeline troubles with the Line 5 pipeline. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered Enbridge to stop work over concerns of the impact on the Great Lakes. Enbridge has acted with impunity and, thus far, ignored the governor’s order.

Beyond the climate, environmental and treaty rights ramifications, pipeline construction also brings violence against Indigenous women, girls and relatives. Pipeline workers living in our domestic oil landscape has led to a 22% national increase against Indigenous women, girls and relatives. For example, when oil and gas operations grew in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota so did massive violence against women, especially Indigenous women.

Governor Walz claims to have outlawed long-time centers of the problem called “man camps.” But Truthout senior editor Candice Berndt recently reported on the shocking trend of sexual violence connected to Line 3 pipeline:

“The devastating trend has long plagued U.S. fossil fuel and extraction projects, especially those adjacent to tribal reservations, and helps fuel a much larger human rights crisis in which thousands of Indigenous women and girls are killed or disappeared at shocking rates each year, often after having been trafficked, sexually assaulted or harassed.”

In the seven years since Line 3 has reared its ugly head, a large-scale grassroots movement, led by Indigenous women, including Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska, Tayshia Martineau, Nancy Beaulieu and Dawn Goodwin, has erupted to combat its construction. Like all pipeline and fossil fuel infrastructure struggles, this one has played out in the courts, the regulatory agencies, politician’s offices, the governor’s mansion, Wall Street and the airwaves of local and national media. It has been hard-fought in the streets and at the point of literal destruction in rural Minnesota for years.

In November, after the 2020 election concluded, Democratic Governor of Minnesota Tim Walz approved the permits for Line 3. Enbridge moved quickly to start construction by early December. Thousands of workers had been stationed in nearby hotels to start their work. They moved rapidly in fear of the incoming Biden administration reversing course from the Trump administration’s supportive actions.

But that’s also when disruption along the Enbridge’s route began. Since early December, we’ve seen waves of protests and direct actions regularly stopping work throughout Northern Minnesota. There are at least half a dozen active camps where actions are being staged. In December, water protectors put up a tree-sit on a construction easement near Palisade, MN to stop work for two weeks in the freezing winter. Indigenous prayer ceremonies have walked on and occupied work sites on the regular around the state. Dozens have actions have taken place and delayed and disrupted Enbridge’s rapid work schedules.

Outside of the sacrifice zone, the climate justice movement has taken the fight to the financiers of Enbridge. Groups like Stop the Money Pipeline and Rainforest Action network have tapped into the “currency of moods” with street murals, bird-dogging bank executives, flooding their homes with Stop Line 3 postcards, jamming their office phones and protests outside banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank across the world.

There has also been the predictable violent corrupt backlash. The “Northern Lights Task Force” was formed from federal, state and local agencies to surveil, harass and stop the Stop Line 3 movement. These agencies are funded by a giant slush fund for officer overtime and new equipment by Enbridge. Police and local district attorneys consult with Enbridge executives regularly on everything from dispersal of funds, government appointments and prosecutions of activists. The task force also adopted the dehumanizing practice from Standing Rock of locking Indigenous water protectors up in dog kennels.

As the winter and spring freezes of Minnesota have ended, resistance has grown in frequency and militancy. In May, a coalition of Indigenous, local and national groups called for the “Treaty People Gathering” to bring the matter to the attention of the Biden Administration. Thousands of water protectors from around the continent traveled to the headwaters of the Mississippi River to take part in actions to stop Line 3 over this past week (June 5-8).

The gathering camped on a 40-acre property on the White Earth Reservation. Over two thousand people RSVP’d to attend, but many more than that showed up. The program was simple. We spent Saturday getting reacquainted with being around lots of people post-pandemic. Leadership held prayer ceremonies and taught us about the history of the region.

Then, we spent Sunday prepping for two mass direct actions called “peanut butter” and “jelly.” Through the training day, we had over 2000 peoples’ assess their own arrest risk levels, opt-in to either peanut butter or jelly, prepare for it and then organized our actions around those risk levels.

One was a mass public action in Clearwater County, MN at the headwaters of the Mississippi that we called “Jelly”. Enbridge is planning to drill and lay pipe under numerous bodies of water (including the Mississippi in two different locations!)  The goal of Jelly was to have a public mass action led by Indigenous leaders and then enter Enbridge’s property to peacefully stop the drilling under the Mississippi. Through the training for jelly, we asked people to join green (no-low risk), yellow (medium risk) and red (high risk) blocs for the march.

Monday morning, we also organized a car caravan to go to the site from camp.  Not an easy feat. But, it worked and over a thousand people ended up at the gates of Enbridge’s drill site in a militant, loud and beautiful march. Soon after, hundreds of us crossed onto Enbridge’s property. It was surrounded by an electric fence.  So instead of jumping the fence, we found a path around it and moved single file through a marsh on the shores of Mississippi.

Once we occupied it, a five-day prayer ceremony began. But so did an occupation that resembled the early days of Zucotti Park. Tents went up and people dug in to stay for the long haul.  Our occupation transformed this quarter-mile-long wooden boardwalk that had been built by a Canadian oil company to drill under America’s most iconic river into “Camp Firelight.” The encampment led by Ojibwe and Anishinaabe members has declared that they are staying indefinitely and have put out a call for Native and non-Native friends alike to join them.

The other action was called peanut butter. It was organized by the Giniw Collective who has been leading with the direct action strategy that disrupts Enbridge’s company business. Peanut butter put 500 people into an action swarm that overtook Enbridge’s Two Inlets pump station in Hubbard County, MN.

It was organized in the tradition of the Clamshell Alliance at the Seabrook Nuclear Plant, Earth First! during the forest wars and, more recently, the Tar Sand Blockade that fought KXL in Texas and the Red Warrior Camp at Standing Rock. It included people jumping metal fences, locking themselves to heavy equipment, taking over offices and blocking the access road with a motorboat.

At the Mississippi, Enbridge knew we were coming and cleared out all workers and equipment to avoid bad press. At the pump station, they were caught by surprise and forty workers were sent home while Enbridge security called the police.

Peanut butter was a fierce action. The police mobilized dozens of state and county riot cops to remove our friends.  It lasted literally 29 hours. It shut down the pump station. The Hubbard County Sheriff and the Northern Lights task force responded with coercive force, violence and a LRAD sound machine. On the first morning, a Dept. of Homeland Security helicopter used tactics employed against migrants on the southern border to disperse protestors with low-flying dustups blasting debris and rotor fluid.

After a day of resistance, almost 200 water protectors were arrested and sent to four different county jails. Their release has been slow amid reports of police abuse and denial of basic human rights such as access to medication and legal representation.

Grassroots movements best tell our stories through relentless action. Early in the Keystone XL fight, the National Journal polled “Beltway insiders” and 90% of them said that KXL was a done deal. 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said early in the process that she was “inclined to approve” KXL if elected president.

We responded to this conventional wisdom with relentless action. We undermined the power of Big Oil and moved Obama to reject the permit based on his climate test. Through the KXL campaign, we’ve built a framework for new waves of organizing, direct action and on-the-ground resistance that has placed the climate crisis to the front doors of political and corporate leaders from the Green New Deal to climate strikes to fighting every proposed bit of fossil fuel infrastructure.

At the Treaty People Gathering, and at jelly and peanut butter, I saw many people that I had organized with, met, and trained over a decade of fighting KXL. Many of them had stepped in the way of the bulldozers, pipelines, politicians and bankers wanting the Keystone XL pipeline and said “no more.”  While we had the final blow delivered this week on Keystone XL, it warmed my heart to see many of them on those lines stepping forward to stop Line 3.

Scott Parkin is a climate organizer working with Rising Tide North America. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparki1969

 

Keystone XL is dead. Now it’s time to stop Line 3.

UPDATE: Camp Firelight was peacefully evicted by the Clearwater County Sheriff Dept. on the demands of Enbridge on June 14th.

Now is the time to join the fight to stop Line 3.

Yesterday, TC Energy announced that they were terminating the Keystone XL Pipeline project after over a decade of organizing and resistance from the Alberta tar sands to the Gulf Coast.

We know that organizing, direct action and resistance to pipelines works. We just proved it again.

Courageous water protectors took action by the thousands on Monday supporting Treaty Rights and opposing the construction of Line 3 in Minnesota. Over 150 water protectors were arrested while shutting down Enbridge’s Two Inlets pumping station. They locked to equipment, blocked roads and stopped work for 30 hours!

At the same time, more than a thousand people marched, occupied and held a prayer ceremony on Enbridge’s drilling site on the Mississippi River. This has led to an indefinite encampment on the site. This has foiled Enbridge’s plans to drill under the river.

But, to continue to protect this precious place, the RISE Coalition has issued a call for all allies and accomplices to join them as soon as possible at Camp Firelight, a new Anishinaabe-led encampment at the Mississippi headwaters in the direct path of Line 3.  

We’re asking you for two things:

  1. GO! We need as many people to travel to support the fight against Line 3 as soon as possible. If you are able to join the camp at the headwaters of the Mississippi please contact the RISE Coalition at RiseCoalition@protonmail.com.
  2. DONATE! Over 150 people have been arrested in Giniw Collective-led direct actions against Line 3 this week. We need support for our water protectors. Please donate here.

If you are unable to attend or just getting back from Line 3, you can help put pressure on Joe Biden by organizing a solidarity action at a federal building. Contact us at info@risingtidenorthamerica.org for more information if you can organize an event.

The Treaty People Gathering has increased the pressure, and with Keystone XL dead now we need to stop all tar sands pipelines.

Can you help us get the word out? If so, AMPLIFY the call to action to join Camp Firelight on Twitter and Facebook.

Statement on Line 3 Arrestees Still Being Held in Minnesota

photo: Giniw Collective

cross-posted from the Giniw Collective

Statement on Line 3 Arrestees Still Being Held in Minnesota:

“After a mass action shutting down a Line 3 pump station, over 150 water protectors were arrested. Arrestees have since been transferred to Aitkin County, Kandiyohi County, Douglas County, Pine County, Todd County & Becker County. The counties are part of the 16-county Northern Lights Task Force, which has received significant funding from the Enbridge Corporation. To date, sheriffs have billed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Enbridge-funded and state-overseen Public Safety Escrow Account.

Some water protectors were held for 16 – 20 hours without being booked, denied medical prescriptions, denied medical attention despite multiple requests for aid, along with multiple violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In Kandiyohi County Jail, water protectors were denied their right to speak to an attorney, as friends and family members did not get to check in on the health and well-being of loved ones.

One jail support volunteer said, “Attorney Keith Ellison and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan must intervene and not allow these county agencies to grossly misuse their power.”

More than 2,000 water protectors stage nonviolent actions to halt construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 toxic tar sands pipeline

photo: Giniw Collective

From the Treaty People Gathering

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 7th

CONTACT: media@treatypeoplegathering.com or 320-496-6304

 

BREAKING: More than 2,000 water protectors stage nonviolent actions to halt construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 toxic tar sands pipeline

Indigenous leaders and allies call on Biden to stop construction of the pipeline and protect water and land while honoring Anishinaabe treaties.

Northern Minnesota— In Minnesota’s largest ever anti-pipeline mobilization, water protectors Monday morning halted construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 toxic tar sands pipeline. Over 1000 people marched with Indigenous leaders to the headwaters of the Mississippi River for a treaty ceremony at the site where the pipeline is proposed to cross. Further south, over 500 Indigenous people, allies, and celebrities shut down an active Line 3 pump station in a massive direct action in solidarity with the Giniw Collective, an Indigenous women, two-spirit-led frontline land defense group.

These actions are a part of the Treaty People Gathering, a mass mobilization of more than 2,000 people planned by Indigenous-led groups, communities of faith, and climate justice organizations, and the beginning of a summer of resistance. Participants are calling on President Biden to stop Line 3, which opponents say threatens Northern Minnesota’s waters, the global climate, and Anishinaabe treaty rights. “Our ancestors made agreements to take care of this water and land forever together, and now is our time to do that.” said Winona LaDuke of Honor The Earth.

At day break, hundreds of land defenders reached the Two Inlets Line 3 pump station . Some climbed ladders or locked themselves to equipment, while others blockaded the entrance, and held space. Jane Fonda, Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska, Catherine Keener, Rosanna Arquette,Taylor Shilling, Siihasin Senior, and Big Wind gave remarks from inside the active pump station. Water Protectors are currently occupying the station and pitching tents.

“Our Mother is calling out, it’s time for us to listen or do the work to remember how. It’s also time for us to all stand with our words. The situation is urgent, it requires urgent response. Find your bravery, find your community, find your truth. Stand with us and Stop Line 3,” said Tara Houska for Giniw Collective.

One locked down Water Protector said, “Think about the water you drink every day. Think about the fact

photo: Giniw Collective

that a human can’t live more than three days without water. Think of what you would do if a corporation just took that from you. So many Indigenous bodies have gone towards protecting the resources that we all benefit from and everyone should think about how they can be someone who actually defends the water and isn’t just somebody who is using it.”

The treaty ceremony at the headwaters, led by the RISE Coalition, was followed by remarks from the visiting celebrities alongside Bill McKibben, Dawn Goodwin, and Nancy Beaulieau. Participants are now holding space on the easement along the banks of the Mississippi and are prepared to stay.

“For years we have tried to assert our sovereignty and speak out against Line 3. We still have time to save our sacred waters and land— our life sources.” said Dawn Goodwin, co-founder of the RISE Coalition.

As Enbridge prepares to drill under 22 Minnesota rivers and over 200 water bodies, including the headwaters of the Mississippi River, the movement of water protectors opposing the controversial Line 3 pipeline is growing quickly with 2,000 people participating in direct action and prayer vigils in multiple locations along the pipeline route today.

“We called this mobilization the Treaty People Gathering because we are all treaty people. Our non-native allies have a responsibility to stand with us against projects like the Line 3 pipeline that put our Anishinaabe lifeways at risk. Today, we’re taking a stand for our right to hunt, fish, and gather, and for the future of the climate,” said Nancy Beaulieau, Northern Minnesota Organizer with MN350 and co-founder of the RISE coalition.

Anishinaabe tribes and allied groups have been resisting the construction of Line 3 across Minnesota since it was proposed in 2014. Since construction began in December of last year, more than 250 people had already been arrested protesting construction. On May 26th, more than 300 organizations submitted a letter today to the Biden Administration calling for President Biden to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately re-evaluate and suspend or revoke Enbridge’s Line 3 Clean Water Act Section 404 permit.

Although Enbridge calls this project a “replacement,” it includes 337 miles of new larger pipe, half of which is in a new corridor crossing more than 200 bodies of water, far from Enbridge’s other pipes. The new pipeline would initially be able to transport almost twice as much crude oil as existing Line 3.

Tribal governments, climate groups, and the Minnesota State Department of Commerce have sued in state court to revoke the pipeline’s “Certificate of Need” arguing that the additional oil supply is not needed and the especially carbon intensive tar sands oil will contribute to catastrophic climate change. Analysis has shown that building Line 3 would unlock the emissions equivalent to building 50 coal plants.

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