Line 3 Update: One in the Win Column, and Upping Our Game Up North

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency conceded to public pressure last week and denied Enbridge a water quality permit it needs to build the new Line 3 pipeline. This is a significant victory for water protectors, but not the end of the line. Enbridge is not going to stop pre-construction on this project and intends to build come hell or high water. In mid-October Twin Cities DSA will be joining a march into the heart of the beast, delivering the message to Enbridge’s doorstep: This pipeline will not be built!

Last week, members of Twin Cities DSA’s Ecosocialism Branch and allies from Science for the People (SftP) coordinated a disciplined public pressure campaign targeting the Walz administration and state regulatory agencies overseeing the Line 3 pipeline. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) appeared to be waffling on whether or not to approve key permits that would allow the oil & gas giant Enbridge to build the tar sands pipeline through our state and Indigenous treaty territories. For four straight days, a broad swathe of TCDSA and YDSA members, SftP, Youth Climate Strikers, and concerned Minnesotans bombarded agency officials and staff with phone calls, texts, and emails, reminding them that there was no legal basis to approve the permits and urging them not to cede decision making authority to Trump’s anti-environment goons at the EPA (an actual possibility).

On Friday afternoon, the day after the conclusion of the campaign, MPCA issued a press release indicating they had notified Enbridge that its application for a water quality permit under the Clean Water Act was being denied. Of course, while we’ll never know exactly what motivated this decision, we do know that on day one of the campaign callers were told that their “concerns were noted”; on day two, we heard that “denial is an option”; and by day three the response was “there’s no way we could legally approve these permits.” 

The people who staff our state’s bureaucracy are not used to hearing directly from the people they purportedly serve, and even when they do, they often don’t listen. But it appears they felt they had to listen this time and it’s likely that energy from the previous week’s Youth Climate Strike had a lot to do with that.

It is important to note that this may only be a minor hiccup for Enbridge. They can and will reapply for these permits, adjusting some language to strengthen the incredible pretense that they can ensure the integrity of all watersheds, wetlands, and wild rice beds that the tar sands crude oil will flow through. But this swift and commendable action by an agency that all too often acts in the interests of industry rather than people creates another critical delay in the construction of the pipeline. It should be viewed by water protectors and climate justice advocates as a real victory for people power.

March on Enbridge to Protect the Sacred

Rolling off this victory, the struggle returns to the front lines. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Monday, October 14th, TCDSA will join the Ginew Collective and other comrades from the Movement to Stop Line 3 in a peaceful march down 470th Street in Clearbrook, Minnesota, at the site of Enbridge’s US pipeline terminal.

While positive responses to pipeline resistance from authorities like this MPCA decision are important, they are also rare. And they don’t definitively stop the pipeline. Meanwhile, Indigenous water protectors are understandably fed up with not being listened to. Now they are vowing to bring their message directly to Enbridge’s doorstep:

“We gather on Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor the resilience of Indigenous communities protecting the sacred here in what is now Minnesota and across Turtle Island. We call attention to the vastly disproportionate impacts Line 3 has on Anishinaabe communities: the imminent threat tar sands pose to water, the violation of treaty rights, the irrevocable impacts on our manoomin (sacred wild rice) and all life that depends on it, and the direct link between the fossil fuel industry and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIWR).

Stand with us to protect the sacred water, the life that it gives, and our communities.”

Twin Cities DSA is heeding this call! This is going to be a powerful event and as Minnesota democratic socialists we couldn’t be prouder to rise in solidarity with those on the frontlines to help make sure that Enbridge, the state of Minnesota, and the whole world hears them.

Join us! There are buses and carpools headed north the day before, and the trip will include an overnight at a frontline resistance camp. If you are planning on participating in the action, please RSVP and reserve a seat on a bus or sign up for a carpool as soon as possible so the event organizers can plan. See the Facebook event with more information and links here.

If you have questions about the event please connect with a comrade in the Ecosoc branch or send an email to [email protected].

Gigantic thanks to all our chapter comrades and everyone else stepping up right now to hold our public officials’ feet to the fire. We stand shoulder to shoulder with water protectors and Earth defenders! Line 3 Will Not Be Built!

– TCDSA Ecosocialism Branch

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