Tania Aubid fears the time when the Mississippi River in Northern Minnesota will be no longer frozen and Canadian energy company Enbridge will start drilling and laying down a new section of their Line 3 pipeline. This is a construction project that has been halfway finished. It has sparked unrest among Native Americans and climate activists in the past few months.
“Sixty-eight million people rely upon this water that comes from up here in Northern Minnesota, and it goes all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico,” says Tania Aubid. “And along the way there are cities — people that drink straight from the river here.”
The tension between the climate protesters, Native Americans and Big Energy is likely to get bigger in the days to come. The changing seasons will bring more focus to this fight as more people will join in and make the protest even bigger.
Enbridge’s Line 3 is a is a 60-year old pipeline that will take a new route with new construction in Minnesota. The 34-inch pipeline is getting replaced with 36-inch pipeline which now cuts along a new path than the original. The construction has been going on for four months.
President Joe’s move to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline gave activists a new ray of hope. They are now desperate to bring the government’s focus on Line 3.
Tara Houska, a member of the Couchiching First Nation, Anishinaabe and the founder of Giniw Collective, said, “The number one issue to young voters is the climate, and they know that. I thought that in terms of this project, and in terms of Dakota Access, that it opened a window into hearing a different answer.”
Houska further said, “We’ve met multiple times with the White House with the Army Corps. There’s a planned follow-up next week. I’m supposed to meet with Interior. There’s a conversation and a door that has been opened.”
In defense, Enbridge states that the construction will bring 5,000 new jobs and a $2 billion boost to the local economy.
Mike Fernandez, a senior vice president at Enbridge says, “If you’re really concerned about safety, we need this pipeline. This is really like Biden says, ‘Build Back Better.’ So this is a modernization project to make sure that the pipeline is safe and to make sure there is no environmental harm.”
“This is a six-year long review,” Fernandez said. “There were scientific elements talking about pipeline safety itself, there were concerns raised all along the way. We had more than 70 public hearings, three state authorities that reviewed this process, permitted this process, and two federal government agencies reviewed this pipeline.”
The Biden administration has so far not given any hint on whether they are going to take any kind of action related to this pipeline. For now, activists are constantly protesting, hoping to get attention and action from the federal government on this matter.