The Line 3 Pipeline: The Facts and How to Take Action
Updated: Jan 31
This whole week I have seen article upon article praising President Biden for his quick action in putting a halt to the Keystone XL pipeline. While I am obviously overjoyed for this victory (that is the culmination of millions of activists dedication and hard work over the past decade), I can't help but put it in perspective that we are only scratching the surface of our fight against the oil industry. The Line 3 pipeline is currently being built in my beautiful state of Minnesota, along indigenous sacred land and burial sites, and into our critical drinking water source: the Mississippi river. We must continue the fight against the oil industry by educating ourselves on the issue, and taking direct action to show the government that we want to divest away from fossil fuel and move towards a green and regenerative economy.
What is Line 3?
Line 3 is a 338-mile long, $7.5 billion pipeline which crosses more than 200 water bodies and 800 wetlands in its path from Alberta, Canada across northern Minnesota. This pipeline will carry 760,000 barrels per day of tar sands across our land. Tar sands are one of the dirtiest fuel sources on the planet, containing clay, sand, water, and a thick black oil used for gasoline and other petroleum products.
In November, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s administration signed off on final water permits for Enbridge to complete an expansion of its Line 3 pipeline. The Red Lake Band, White Earth Band, Mille Lacs Band, Honor the Earth, Friends of the Headwaters, the Sierra Club, the Youth Climate Intervenors, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce are currently in court challenging the Environmental Impact Statement, Certificate of Need, and Routing Permit for the pipeline. They are challenging them on the grounds that the approvals went against multiple credible economic and legal recommendations; did not consider the climate impacts of the project; and did not consider treaty rights. These appeals won't play out until the Spring/Summer of 2021, and construction of the pipeline has already started.
The Line 3 pipeline was built in 1961, and Enbridge now estimates that there are over 900 integrity anomalies and already operates the line at a reduced pressure. Instead of working on fixing this pipeline, they want to expand the pipeline and call it a repair. On top of being incredibly dangerous for our environmental future, the pipeline continues to fuel the colonial racism against the indigenous tribes here in North America. The proposed pipelines violate the treaty rights of the Anishinaabeg by endangering primary areas of hunting, fishing, wild rice, and cultural resources in the 1855 treaty territory.
Brave and inspiring activists from all over the North America are coming together to say enough is enough, and to take back the right to a safe and healthy future. We can not let their work out on the front line go unnoticed or without support, which is why we are pushing you to help us cut the crap surrounding the oil industries control over environmental health and tribal rights.
What are the environmental effects?
-The Line 3 expansion will add 193 million tons of CO2 to our atmosphere each year, bringing this one pipelines emissions to a total of 273.5 million tons of CO2 each year.
-The pipeline's emissions are equivalent to adding 50 new coal-fired power plants or 38 million additional gasoline vehicles on our roads.
-Sequestering greenhouse gases from Line 3 would require an additional 227 million acres of forests.
-Enbridge has already had over 800 spills in the last 15 years, so we can only imagine how much damage an abandoned, broken pipeline will cause when it inevitably spills into our drinking water.
-The total emissions estimates fall within a range, but the societal costs of climate change that might result from Line 3 could reach $287 billion over the next 30 years,
-Mining the sands often requires scraping off the life-giving boreal forest growing over Alberta’s oil fields. Photographs of Alberta’s oil sands sites show a vast moonscape impossible to reclaim. The water used in processing is left in toxic holding ponds that cumulatively could fill 500,000 Olympic swimming pools, as one National Geographic article puts it.
-The new Line 3 along Enbridge’s preferred route would impact a total of 389 acres of wild rice in 17 different wild rice water bodies. Wild rice is a critical and sacred part of indigenous culture, which is severely threatened by the pipeline planned to run through it.
-Oil refineries are typically placed in low-income neighborhoods where people of color make up the vast majority of the population. This is a form of environmental racism that we see time and time again because there are no rules in place to protect ALL of our citizens from being forced to breathe toxic air and drink contaminated water. Enbridge is guilty of this across the United States, and the Line 3 pipeline is no different.
How can YOU take action?
Donate directly to the front line in Northern Minnesota through the organization Stop 3 here.
Donate to Honor The Earth, an organization who is fighting for indigenous rights and environmental justice across North America. Your donation directly supports targeted organizing, strategic outreach, media and education campaigns, legal interventions, and renewable energy projects. Find the donation page here.
Los Brown Berets are a nationwide activist group, and the Minnesota group have been critical at the Line 3 front lines. They provide constant support up north, bring supplies each week, and lead protests here in the cities. Follow them on Facebook at @losbrownberetsminnesota , and donate to their Cashapp link to contribute to supplies and gas money: $xochitlicuelbb
If you live in Minnesota, reach out to us on our About page for information on collecting items to donate to the front line resistance. Winter gear, food, and gas money are critical for those on the front line and for the indigenous communities being negatively impacted by this pipeline.
Watch a 38-minute front line documentary on the effort to stop fossil fuel expansion and encourage real energy security here.
Read this short, powerful article on the pipeline from Louise Erdrich, a novelist and poet from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Find the article here.
Watch this 2 minute video from indigenous activist Winona LaDuke for a quick summary of the pipeline here.
Use your voice:
Sign these petitions from Honor The Earth here.
Follow front line resistance groups and share their posts on social media to amplify the work they are doing. You will also learn ways to take action with them, and stay updated on the continuous fight against the oil industry.
-Giniw Collective is a grassroots, frontline effort led by indigenous women to protect the sacred and empower the next generation of leadership with traditional values.
-RISE (Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging with our Allies) stands in solidarity to protect the land, water, fire, and air for the next seven generations.
-Honor the Earth is a Native-led organization led by Winona LaDuke, welcoming water protectors to the North and building a green economy while resisting destruction of Mother Earth.
Consider writing an op-ed for your local newspaper. Simply contact the editors through their website or phone number to see what the requirements are, or turn in an article with your contact information! For tips on writing a strong op-ed piece, click here.
Join the front line:
If you live in Minnesota, consider heading up North to become a water protector. Show solidarity on the front line with a community of activists who want to protect our beautiful Earth. If you are interested, here is all the information you need before going.
Similarly, volunteer to monitor for construction damage along the pipeline route to help build the legal cases that are ongoing in court. Find more information and volunteer information here.
Divest away from banks that back the fossil fuel industry. If your bank is listed among the 64 banks backing DAPL and Tar Sands pipeline expansions, find an alternative and move your money. Find your banks statistics, and how to divest here.