(More) Spills Along Line 3 Construction Route

Line 3 protest sign reads "Line 3 = Hazard"

Image: Fibonacci Blue, CC BY 2.0

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

The Line 3 oil pipeline isn’t operational yet, but it’s already spilling. This summer, there were 28 drilling fluid spills along the construction route, according to Minnesota regulators, more than initially reported in July. Drilling fluid, a combination of clay, water, and chemicals, should be captured and disposed of. Instead, it’s leaking and posing a threat to aquatic life.

The pipeline, a replacement for an older segment, is complete except for the 337 miles that run through Minnesota. Enbridge Energy, the Canadian company operating the pipeline, expects construction to wrap up by the end of the year. 

Why This Matters:  These spills show that even the pipeline construction process is detrimental — and that’s without the proposed problematic Canadian tar sands flowing. Protesters have been calling for the project to stop and point to the harm it would cause Minnesota’s water bodies since state regulators approved it in 2015. Moving forward with Line 3 locks in fossil fuel use with a pipeline running through at least 200 water bodies and tribal land.

Especially in light of the dire reminders in this week’s IPCC report, it’s time to stop building oil infrastructure, while stopping future spills and emissions before they can happen.

First tribal court rights of nature lawsuit involve wild rice, Line 3: Indigenous activists have been at the forefront of the Line 3 protests and legal action.

  • Last week, the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe sued the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in tribal court, claiming their permit for the pipeline violated the rights of wild rice.
  • In 2018, the tribe leaders adopted a law that gives wild rice the right to exist and flourish, which they now claim the pipeline construction threatens.

In order to install the new pipeline, Enbridge has a permit from DNR to pump 5 billion gallons of water. The complaint argues that this pumping puts wild rice at risk. 

The legal argument is that manoomin, in our culture and world, is a living entity, like everything else,” Frank Bibeau, a tribal attorney representing the White Earth band, told Minnesota Public Radio.It has rights just like us to exist and flourish and multiply. And it’s not being watched out for.”

And that’s just during the construction period — if the pipeline does get completed, any spill would be detrimental to the wild rice and the water bodies that support it.

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