(Hill City, MN) Early Friday morning, five water protectors locked themselves into concrete barrels at the entrance of Swatara oil pump station, halting construction of the Line 3 Replacement project. This action was taken with Camp Migizi in recognition of Earth Day, coming a day ahead of “Stop Line 3 x Earth Day”, a march that will be taking place in Duluth, Minnesota. Two of the protestors sat behind a hand painted banner reading “Earth Day Every Day”, while other banners in front of the pump station gate read “No Pipelines on Stolen Land,” “Land Back,” and “Protect the Water.”
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, as the project endangers wild rice lakes in treaty territories where the Anishinaabe have the right to hunt, fish, and gather. There have been over 250 arrests made since construction began in December 2020, making this the largest pipeline protest since Standing Rock.
One of the water protectors present at the action decried the construction of Line 3 for breaking treaties and desecrating the land. In their words, “What Enbridge is doing is perpetuating that colonial cycle of violence and disregard, until we are at a point where our waters do not flow, and our grasses wilt and die, and all we have in common are fires, floods, state surveillance, and the thin, decimated ozone hanging low above our heads.”
Groups resisting Line 3 in honor of Earth Day cite the ecological destruction that is being caused by the pipeline, particularly the project’s contribution to climate change. Oil from the tar sands is the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel, and the expanded Line 3 would release as much carbon as 50 new coal-fired power plants. Enbridge calls this construction a “replacement project”, omitting the fact that the new Line 3 pipeline would nearly double its capacity to carry oil, all but guaranteeing that our state would not meet its emissions reduction targets. The new route also goes through hundreds of acres of wetlands and over 200 bodies of water untouched by infrastructure projects.
This action was taken in recognition of the colonial violence and ecological destruction that is being caused by the construction of Line 3, and in honor of Earth Day. As one of the Water Protectors present said, “We take this stand today, to celebrate creation in the face of tyranny.”
Additional photos and interviews with movement leadership available upon request.
(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.