Public hearings are scheduled across the state of Minnesota in October and evidentiary hearings begin in Saint Paul starting November 1. Visit the Line 3 Facebook page to find a hearing near you.
For communities of color and Native people in the United States, environmental justice and racial justice are inextricably connected. The United States has a long history of this specific type of oppression, commonly referred to as environmental racism. For example, Native, Black and other people of color are more likely to be exposed to harmful toxic waste, and Black and Native children have higher rates of asthma due to their increased likelihood of living in high pollution areas. Across the country, including here in Minnesota, Native communities have been forced to endure centuries of oppression and the routine stripping of access to natural resources that were once theirs and theirs alone.
The ACLU is relatively new to the fight for environmental justice. We follow the lead of Native communities and environmental organizations who have long been at the forefront of this fight. The ACLU has recently taken on a number of campaigns around the country, including in the Flint water crisis, and we filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin over highway expansion.
ACLU of North Dakota also supported Native activism against the Dakota Access Pipeline over the past few years. The work of Native activism garnered nationwide attention and empowered the grassroots movement, #NoDAPL. In Minnesota, a similar fight is heating up. An oil company, Enbridge, would like to build a new pipeline that stretches from Wisconsin all the way across Northern Minnesota. Despite years of resistance from Native and local communities, plans to build the new line have continued. Here is a summary of the project from Honor the Earth, a non-profit that focuses on Native environmental issues:
Similar in size and purpose to the recently defeated Keystone XL pipeline, Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline is proposed to transport tar sands oil over 1000 miles, from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, through the heart of Anishinaabe territory and some of the best lakes and wild rice beds in the world. They call it the “Line 3 Replacement,” but don’t be fooled. It is a new pipeline. The existing Line 3 crosses 300+ miles of Northern Minnesota, through the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations. That line is old and crumbling, but instead of removing it, they want simply to abandon it and build a new one in a brand new corridor. The proposed new route endangers the Great Lakes, home to one fifth of the world’s fresh water, and some of the most delicate soils, aquifers and pristine lakes in northern Minnesota, It also threatens critical resources on Ojibwe treaty lands, where tribal members retain the rights to hunt, fish, gather, hold ceremony, and travel. It is our responsibility as water protectors to prevent this. Tribal governments, environmental organizations, and community members are uniting to stop Line 3. We expect a protracted legal and regulatory battle in the coming years.
State law requires that disproportionate environmental impacts must be taken into consideration before launching a major project. The ACLU of Minnesota submitted an official comment to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that speaks to the inadequacy of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Line 3 Replacement project. In its letter, the ACLU states: “While the Final EIS acknowledges the project’s disproportionate harm to Native people, significant concerns regarding the environmental racism inherent in the proposal have not been fully addressed.”
According to Honor the Earth, it’s not a matter of if Line 3 will leak, but rather when. It’s the people living in these communities that will be left with the fallout and environmental damage of this pipeline. The pipeline endangers primary areas of hunting, fishing, wild rice, and other resources of the territory, harming the culture and survival of the Native people that live, work, and raise their families on the threatened land. Line 3 also poses a significant threat to the treaty rights of Anishinaabeg tribes and threatens the property rights of local residents. The ACLU-MN asks that the Final EIS not only acknowledge these negative impacts, but fully address the environmental and sociological consequences of the proposed project on Native people and communities.
Want to weigh in on the project? Public hearings are scheduled throughout the month of October. You can also weigh in by going to the online public comment forum open now through November 22, 2017.
Learn more at https://www.stopline3.org/ and stay up-to-date by following the Line 3 Facebook page.