Dear Zenith News:
It would be a lovely world if people were placed over corporations, and we were already living in a fossil fuel-free world. The truth is, however, that we are far from the ideal. On a weekly, if not daily basis, we are reminded that corporations and big money take priority over citizens. Corporations such as Enbridge spend an outlandish amount of money on public relations. Their statements to the public, including to the Zenith (“Standing Rock comes to Minnesota,” August 15, 2017) sound like a constant rerun of a commercial that is trying to sell us a bill of goods that we already know will fall short of the desired outcome.
One such example of this ever-running commercial is the way Enbridge likes to tout 8,000 jobs coming from Line 3. The reality of this—as stated in the Final Environmental Impact Statement—is there will be 4,800 jobs that will not go to Minnesota residents. There will be some short-term, secondary jobs for our state, but the real meat on the bone will not come here. One would believe from Enbridge’s PR that many long-term jobs will help our local economy. Yet they never mention our very own union workers getting these high-paying, long-term jobs. There is also no mention of our local union workers getting jobs to pull the old line out of the ground. There is no mention of our workers being able to gain jobs restoring the environment. It’s rather sad that the highly skilled professionals we have right here in Minnesota are essentially ignored by a foreign company that wants to leave their mess for those living in Minnesota to deal with as it continues to degrade and fall apart.
The fact that it will fall apart at some point, leaving sinkholes plus contaminated water and soil, is also greatly ignored, and the cost of fixing these issues will fall on private landowners, counties, and our beautiful state of 10,000 lakes. Nothing man-made lasts. To quote Winona LaDuke, Director of Honor the Earth, “We all recognize that Enbridge has been here. Its lines are here. It’s a question of, to me, what is a responsible corporate citizen? Those lines aren’t just all going to disappear (if left in the ground). We believe it is incredibly irresponsible to start leaving one mess and making a new mess. That’s not a good corporate citizen.” (“Though Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project is far from approved, debate already is stirring: What happens to old Line 3?” Duluth News Tribune, September 21, 2017).
In reality, green energy is proving to be one of the fastest growing industries. Green energy will provide safe, long-term, well-paying jobs. Many countries have already made great strides in lowering their carbon footprint and have converted to green energy. No one expects that we will see this happen in the United States overnight, but the oil companies know they are on a downhill slide, and they continue to try to gain financially regardless of the cost to the environment, public health, Indigenous rights and views, and now even the Department of Commerce stating that we do not need Enbridge to continue Line 3 in Minnesota via the old line or their new line.
The new line proposed is not a replacement. When something is replaced, it goes back into the same spot and performs the same function. In this case, Line 3 resembles the previous Sandpiper line, but would carry tar sands instead of lightweight oil. Tar sands are the most damaging of all oils to not only the environment, but to those who are exposed to it. Organizations such as the Youth Climate Intervenors, Friends of the Headwaters, Friends of the Boundary Waters, and the Sierra Club have spent countless hours educating the public so that we know the true dangers of pipelines and tar sands. Fond du Lac, White Earth, and Red Lake Reservations are also intervenors who are not only trying to prevent harm to the environment and wild rice lakes, but are showing their commitment to green energy on the reservations themselves. These groups are leading by example to aid in assuring future generations that they will have clean water and that Minnesota will continue to be a place of beauty that we can all be proud of.
Lake Superior holds 10 percent of the freshwater on the earth’s surface, and it is the pride of Minnesota. The lake provides drinking water for 25 percent of the population in our state. When viewing the preferred Line 3 route, it becomes obvious that Lake Superior will be threatened from many directions, including Canada and Wisconsin. By reading past accounts of Enbridge spills, including information provided by the National Wildlife Federation, the history of this corporation not only puts our water at risk, but other cherished aspects of Minnesota, including wildlife. This corporation does not have one of the better histories regarding spills. On September 13, the latest proof of Enbridge’s practices was published in Canada’s National Observer (“Enbridge suspends work on pipeline expansion following inspection”), stating that the current expansion in British Columbia had to be shut down due to safety and environmental issues that were found during an inspection. This is not in the best interests of Minnesota.
Our greatest defense against corporations that put money above human beings is to educate ourselves, our children, and, yes, even our law- and policy-makers. Many in Minnesota are rising up and using their voices within the state and attending public hearings that are used as a tool to make sure those voices are heard. We can defeat Line 3 and work within the systems to create long-term, high-paying jobs in green energy. It will be a time of growth and a time of change, but in the end, we will leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren that will ensure their survival and the generations that come after them.
All Nations Indigenous Center