EDITORIAL: We are all connected, and we are all being threatened by Enbridge and the politicians who support them

October 2, 2021

Barbara With

Dear friends and neighbors,

As many of you might know, I spent this past summer at Shell City Water Protector Camp in northern Minnesota, taking a stand to protect the water there from Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. The destruction this project has caused is a nightmare.

On July 19, 2021, Mary Klein, WInona LaDuke, me, Trish Weber, Cheryl Barnds, Kelly Maracle, and Flo Razowsky were arrested on an Enbridge easement running illegally through 1855 Treaty Territory at the Shell River near Park Rapids, MN. Photo: Citizen X

While I appreciate being thanked for my service, I would much prefer to see an engaged community who are aware of these dangers and also willing to take a stand to protect our beloved Lake Superior from the destruction this multinational corporation is bringing our way in Northern Wisconsin via Line 5.

Two months after my arrest, Enbridge is proving they are indeed a threat to us all as they destroy the waters even before they turn on their tar sands to flow through those damaged and damaging Line 3 pipes.

September 26, 2021: Near the headwaters of the Mississippi—rising drilling fluids in the wetlands caused by Enbridge Line 3. According to Minnesota licensed geologist Jeffrey Brosberg, recent rainfall may have added to the groundwater pressure causing the drilling fluids to rise weeks after their horizontal directional drilling (HDD) was completed. Five drilling fluid releases were documented at this location, only two were reported to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) who are in charge of Enbridge’s 401 Clean Water Permit. Photo: Ron Turney
September 28, 2021: Massive waste containment failure at Enbridge’s Line 3 Clearwater River crossing. Water Protectors monitoring the situation reveal what appears to be another aquifer breach with drill mud and groundwater rising from the drill pad. The waste holding tanks that have been constructed fill up fast and the excess is discharged onto the grass. A holding tank can be seen leaking and was drained into the nearby woods thru straw bales. A blueish oily residue can be seen in the grass. What is in those chemicals? Photo: Ron Turney

Line 3 was re-routed out of Canada and into the water-rich lands of 1855 Treaty Territory in northern Minnesota without consulting the Tribes and after Enbridge achieved what is known as “regulatory capture.” Minnesota regulatory agencies have abandoned the public trust and are being dominated by the very interests they are charged with regulating. In this case, the foreign multinational corporation convinced politicians on all sides of the aisle and every level of government to protect them over protecting the water, land, wild rice, and people of the State of Minnesota.

Because of this, on August 4, 2021, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe sued the Minnesota DNR. Plaintiffs assert that the diversion of 5 billion gallons of water for an oil pipeline will interfere with both the rights of manoomin (wild rice), as well as the rights of tribal members to use Treaty lands to hunt, fish, and gather wild rice.

As of August 2021, Enbridge-funded Northern Lights Task Force has paid over $1.7 million for Minnesota county law enforcement to protect the multinational foreign corporation and to make over 900 arrests of water protectors. Task Force members were recently documented using pain compliance and rubber bullets on non-violent water protectors. Minnesota is now an oil company with a police force.

This insanity is now in Wisconsin, as Enbridge prepares to do the same over here with their proposed new Line 5 through the Penokee Hills. It’s a looming nightmare that must be stopped before it starts.

Enbridge’s proposed new Line 5 through the Penokees crosses every major river in the watershed. Plans include mile-long horizontal directional drilling—the same that produced the many breeches in the Minnesota aquifers as they drilled under 207 waterways over there—and blasting through the million-year-old granite, rich with asbestos, in order to install their new line. Map: Carl Lemke Sack

Enbridge is proposing the new Line 5 through the Bad River watershed in the Penokee Hills because their permit to operate the original Line 5 through the Bad River reservation expired in 2013. The Tribe is suing them to decommission the line and remove it from the ground. Enbridge is now operating the 67-year-old line illegally.

Enbridge Line 5 exposure in the Denomie Creek subwatershed. Sandbags were temporarily installed under the free-standing pipeline. Photo: MNRD

From Bad River, Line 5 continues on into Michigan, where it is also operating illegally, as Gov. Whitmer ordered Enbridge to shut down the 65-year-old line that is damaged and dangerously positioned under the Straits of Mackinac. They refused, forcing Whitmer to start more extreme actions to protect the Straits.

After that, Line 5 heads back to Canada via Sarnia, where it is shipped off to Canadian and foreign markets.

I live in Lake Superior, on Mooningwaanekaaning Minis (Madeline Island), the sacred center of the Anishinaabe universe. I understand that we have a paradise here, but we non-Indigenous people are the privileged who get to live here when so few Indigenous folks can afford to visit their sacred homeland, much less own property here. Because of that, we never see the economic and social struggles of the Tribes because they are systemically excluded from coming and living here. We are privileged because so many of us will never have to deal with, for example, the racist conditions of the Ashland County jail, like our Indigenous friends and neighbors are subjected to. It’s time to recognize how our privilege to just ignore these problems stemming from centuries of genocidal US Government policies are preventing us from effectively dealing with them, and continuing to harm the Indigenous people whose homelands we inhabit.

Imagine oil washing up at Joni’s Beach, or on your own beach. Imagine your drinking water being made undrinkable because Enbridge uses PFAS–forever chemical–just to install the pipelines. Imagine watching the Penokee Hills get blasted apart in order to put that pipeline through.

Today we will be celebrating the 167th Anniversary of the 1854 Treaty, signed here on the Island. It is our responsibility to learn what it means to be Treaty People. Water Protectors from Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin will be here all day to educate, inspire, and ask you to TAKE ACTION to stop this monstrous situation from destroying what we all hold so dear. We will be at the Harry Nelson Ballpark all day. Come learn how to help.

THIS IS NOT ONLY A REPUBLICAN EFFORT. Our Democratic Senator Janet Bewley crafted the Felony Protest Bill, originally drafted by the American Petroleum Institute, of which Enbridge is a member. Despite huge objections from her constituents, and despite the Chequamegon Dems writing a resolution begging her, Rep. Beth Meyers and Gov. Tony Evers, all Democrats, not to support that horrible bill, they did—they passed it. All without consulting the Tribes. Now it’s a felony to even be caught standing on an Enbridge easement. This is how regulatory capture happens.

Now Indigenous community members, whose spiritual obligations have always included protecting the water and providing for their community, are facing felony charges if they fulfill these spiritual responsibilities.

Cartoon: William J. Krupinski

Please familiarize yourself with Man Camps, temporary Enbridge housing for construction workers that threaten all Indigenous women. One out of every three Indigenous women will go missing or murdered. ONE OUT OF THREE. These Man Camps harbor those who prey on Indigenous women. Right now, the AmericInn in Ashland is housing the influx of Enbridge workers who have come to start building this devastating project, even before Enbridge has received permits, and before the Wisconsin DNR finalizes their Environmental Impact Statement.

This is a potential disaster we can and must prevent. Stopping the construction of Line 5 and the social, environmental, cultural and spiritual devastation it will bring is not just about our beautiful, beloved and sacred part of the world. It’s about the survival of the entire planet. We are all connected, and we are all being threatened by Enbridge and the politicians who support them.

In the end, you simply cannot drink oil.

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4 Comments on “EDITORIAL: We are all connected, and we are all being threatened by Enbridge and the politicians who support them”

  1. David Groh October 2, 2021 at 11:13 am #

    That map suggests to me that running the pipeline through the reservation is not allowed so the choice made by Enbridge is to go around. Problem is that that does nothing to protect the water. Those beautiful, life giving rivers will carry the pollution where they go.

  2. David Groh October 2, 2021 at 11:18 am #

    Ford and Chevy and more auto manufacturers are making plans to stop providing small vehicles such as cars and pickup trucks with internal combustion engines. It only makes sense to stop building costly infrastructure for fossil fuels. Internal combustion engines are on the way out.

  3. Sunshine Zude October 3, 2021 at 1:43 pm #

    Such an injustice for the Indiansa and 1 out of 3 women are murdered? Get out of here! Unfortunately for the Indians, the whities are responsible for this! necessary
    There isnt ANY PLACE on Indian land that this is necessary to build this! The land was STOLEN from the Indians and the rest LEFT FOR THEM! Now they want to take that away…how about putting the pipeline on the whities property or better yet NOT BUILD THE DA*N THING. The whitie still takes the land. Give me a break!

  4. Bill Krupinski October 4, 2021 at 8:57 am #

    Excellent coverage from the field backed up by dogged research on the political issues influencing this ongoing genocide of the land and it’s people!

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