Line 3 Pipeline Complete, Oil to Flow on Monday

Image: Frypie via Wikimedia Commons

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

Enbridge Energy announced this week that the construction of the Line 3 pipeline has been completed, and oil will start flowing Monday. Protesters have fought the pipeline since Minnesota regulators approved the project back in 2015, arguing against its violation of Indigenous rights, harm to waterways and wild rice, and climate impact. The tar sands it will carry over 1,000 miles from Canada to Wisconsin use more energy and create more emissions than other types of oil. Even without oil flowing, Line 3 has already recorded 28 drilling fluid spills and disrupted water levels by pumping billions of gallons of water for construction, further threatening aquatic life. 


Why This Matters: The Line 3 project has carried on despite its core justice and climate issues. Indigenous leaders have been at the forefront of opposition to the project, which runs directly through their land. It threatens Indigenous sovereignty, marine biodiversity, and the broader climate. Line 3 is double the capacity of the line it’s replacing, increasing emissions just as the nation makes ambitious commitments to clean energy.


“All that money going into oil that’s continual and perpetual could be going into those green energy projects,” Jaike Spotted Wolf, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes from North Dakota who has spent months protesting the pipeline, told Minnesota Public Radio.


What Comes Next

The pipeline may be done, but the movement to stop it is far from finished. Although the Minnesota Supreme Court and the state court of appeals affirmed state regulators’ approval of the project, other legal challenges are still in progress. Building on the growing rights of nature movement, the White Earth Nation brought a case against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with wild rice as the lead plaintiff. 


As Joe Plumer, an attorney for the Red Lake Nation in northwestern Minnesota that opposed Line 3, told Minnesota Public Radio:

I think that tribes are going to be enacting their own laws. Tribes are going to take the bull by the horns and call state actors in their official capacities into the tribal court — not for any money damages, but for injunctive relief to stop what they’ve been permitting.


Another hope for Line 3’s demise is revoking its water permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers, but this past summer, the Biden Administration defended the permit. Indigenous leaders at the forefront of protests against the pipeline — which were met with violent policing — have also vowed to keep fighting.


In a statement, the Indigenous Environmental Network said: 

The Line 3 fight is far from over; it has just shifted gears. Do not think we are going quietly into the night. We will continue to stand on the frontlines until every last tar sands pipeline is shut down and Indigenous communities are no longer targeted but our right to consent or denial is respected.

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