(Floodwood, MN) Early Thursday morning, several Water Protectors under Indigenous leadership took action to shut down two Enbridge construction sites on the Line 3 pipeline route. While two people locked themselves to a gate, blocking access to a worksite building a pump station, four more individuals (Sonja Birthisel, Julie Macuga, Cody Pajic, and Leif Taranta) ascended and chained themselves to the top of large machines attempting to lay pipe at an adjacent construction site in St. Louis County.
Since construction began in December of 2020, the movement to stop the Line 3 pipeline has been steadily growing. Over 200 water protectors have been arrested protesting construction, making this the largest pipeline protest since Standing Rock. Several of the people participating in this morning’s action with Camp Migizi traveled across the country to join the resistance.
Dr. Sonja Birthisel, when asked why she was willing to risk arrest to stop construction, said “As an environmental scientist, I am painfully aware that it is time to transition away from fossil fuel dependence. I am here to stand for treaty rights, and the right to a livable future.”
Line 3 is a $4 billion dollar oil pipeline currently being built across Northern Minnesota by the Canadian corporation Enbridge Energy. The project aims to replace and expand the aging and corroded original Line 3 pipeline, which carries tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Superior, WI. The existing Line 3 is responsible for the largest ever inland oil spill in US history, in which nearly 1.7 million barrels of crude oil spilled in Grand Rapids MN in 1991. Despite promises to bring needed income to Minnesota residents and hire 75% local workers, only a third of employees constructing the new pipeline are from Minnesota.
Construction faces active and growing resistance led by Indigenous groups who see the project and the risk of a spill as a violation of treaty rights. The pipeline threatens wild rice lakes in treaty territories where the Anishinaabe have the right to hunt, fish, and gather. Opponents also decry the project’s contribution to the epidemic of MMIWR (missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives) caused by the hundreds of temporary workers employed by the project. Environmental groups are concerned about the pipeline’s contribution to climate change. Oil from the tar sands is the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel, and the expanded Line 3 would carry as much carbon as 50 new coal-fired power plants.
Interviews with movement leadership and photos available upon request.
from Resist Line 3 Media: “We wanted to amplify two actions taking place on the front lines of the Line 3 resistance movement today. Both Camp Migizi and the Giniw Collective are shutting construction down!”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3/5/2021
Contact: Priscilla Trinh, UMN Student, firstname.lastname@example.org for general inquiries, and to be connected with student press contacts at each school
Photos: find more photos of the day here
Macalester College students blockade Grand Avenue during statewide day of action at Minnesota schools in solidarity with the movement to stop Line 3
(MINNESOTA) Today, hundreds of Minnesota college and university students are staging demonstrations on their campuses to raise awareness of the Line 3 pipeline, and to call on their institutions to divest from fossil fuel industry projects. Students from the University of Minnesota Morris, UMD, UMN Twin Cities, Carleton College, St Olaf College, The College of St Benedict’s, Gustavus Adolphus College, and Macalester College have been collaborating to plan this day of action for months. b`
Emily Wittkop, a junior at the University of Minnesota Morris said, “I’m fighting Line 3 for several reasons – the danger to our environment, the violation of Minnesota’s treaties, the impact of oil on the world’s political climate. I’m also pushing the University of Minnesota to begin fossil fuel divestment so that the financial investments of UMN matches their stated mission and the will of the student population that pay so much for their education here.”
For this statewide day of action, student activists at 8 Minnesota schools are staging art installations, hosting protests, and talking with their peers about how their schools are funding construction of the Line 3 pipeline. (More information about each school’s activities available upon request.)
At Macalester College in St Paul, 350 students have blockaded the city street, Grand Avenue, that runs through the campus. Dozens of Macalester students, alumni, faculty, and staff have been involved in the Line 3 resistance movement over the years, and several have even been arrested protesting on the frontlines in recent months.
Helen Meigs, a Macalester senior, said “We are out here today because it is unethical for Macalester to claim that they are preparing us for the future when their investments are part of the system robbing us of that very future. Macalester’s investments in Enbridge support a pipeline that will have devastating consequences for global climate change, a pipeline that when it spills, will poison the drinking water of millions along the Mississippi, a pipeline that violates the treaty rights of the Anishinaabe people. We are here today in solidarity with the indigenous water protectors up north and to call on Macalester to stand with us and divest to stop Line 3.”
Students from the 8 participating schools have been collaborating to prepare for today’s activities for months. Connecting over zoom meetings and workshops, they’ve developed a community and had space to discuss their shared values and visions for a better world. It was those relationships that pushed two Macalester College seniors to reinvigorate their divestment campaign with a proposal to the Macalester Board of Trustees specifically calling on them to divest from Enbridge Energy in protest of the Line 3 pipeline. Most of the participating groups have made ongoing or past fossil fuel divestment asks of their schools’ administrations.
The coalition of Minnesota schools also collaborated with students from around the US and Canada to plan the Student Divestment Virtual Rally to #Defund Line 3 for today at 3 pm.