The existing Line 3 is an Enbridge pipeline that ships crude oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. It spans northern Minnesota, crossing the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations and the l855, 1854, and l842 treaty areas.  And it is a ticking time bomb.  It was built with defective steel in l96l, has had numerous ruptures and spills, and is running at half pressure because of severe corrosion.  Instead of cleaning up this liability, Enbridge wants to simply abandon it in the ground forever, and cut a brand new energy corridor through our best lakes, wetlands, and wild rice beds, and the heart of Ojibwe treaty territory.  They first proposed this new route for the Sandpiper pipeline in 2013, but years of fierce resistance in Minnesota drove them to cancel that project and buy a share of the Dakota Access pipeline instead.  

At $7.5 billion, the proposed new Line 3 would be the largest project in Enbridge’s history and one of the largest crude oil pipelines in the world, carrying up to 915,000 barrels per day of one of the dirtiest fuel on earth, tar sands crude.  They call it a "replacement" but it is larger, with higher volume, in a new corridor.  First Nations, tribal governments, landowners, environmental groups, and communities across the Great Lakes have been fighting for 5 years now to stop this new corridor and #StopLine3.  We are here to protect the water and our future generations.


Here are some of the major issues, and reasons to Stop Line 3:

(Click images or titles TO JUMP TO more information BELOW)





Because the tribal nations and Indigenous people in the path of the project oppose it, the proposal to build a new Line 3 is a violation of the fundamental principles of sovereignty - the right to self-determination and self-government guaranteed to tribal nations by the US Constitution and affirmed repeatedly by the US Supreme Court.   The State of MN does not have the consent of the impacted tribes along the route, and does not have jurisdiction on tribal lands, including ceded territories.  This is modern-day colonialism for the purposes of resource extraction and corporate profit.  


Even on ceded territory (off-reservation), Ojibwe tribal members retain certain property rights that allow them to “make a modest living from the land.” These use-rights are called usufructuary rights, and are guaranteed by the treaties between Ojibwe bands and the US government, protected by the US Constitution, and affirmed by the US Supreme Court. They include the rights to hunt, fish, gather medicinal plants, harvest and cultivate wild rice, and preserve sacred or culturally significant sites.

New oil pipelines in northern Minnesota would violate the treaty rights of the Anishinaabeg by endangering critical natural and cultural resources in the 1842, 1854, and 1855 treaty areas. All pipelines leak, and catastrophes like Enbridge’s 1 million gallon spill in 2010 on the Kalamazoo River are not unlikely.  Pipelines threaten the culture, way of life, and physical survival of the Ojibwe people.  Where there is wild rice, there are Anishinaabeg, and where there are Anishinaabeg, there is wild rice. It is our sacred food. Without it we will die. It’s that simple.

For more information, see our Treaty Rights Factsheet.


The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is the main international document outlining protections for Indigenous people worldwide.  It was adopted in 2007 by the UN General Assembly, with support from over 90% of the world’s countries. The US was one of 4 countries that voted against it, and all 3 others have since then reversed their position and officially endorsed the document.  In 2010, President Barack Obama declared that the United States would "lend its support" to the Declaration, but Congress has not ratified the document and the US is not bound legally in any way.

Among other things, the UNDRIP includes rights to land and health; the right to practice, maintain, and protect culture; and the right to self-determination.  It introduces the concept of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as the threshold of consent other governments and industries must obtain from impacted communities before making policy decisions that affect them.  The Obama Administration’s statement in 2010 included an interesting interpretation of FPIC, "which the United States understands to call for a process of meaningful consultation with tribal leaders, but not necessarily the agreement of those leaders, before the actions addressed in those consultations are taken."   




Climate change is real, it is happening now, and it is caused by human industrial civilization.  We are already seeing unprecedented changes to climate patterns across the globe, with catastrophic consequences.  Every single day, over 200 more species go extinct.  Natural disasters, wildfires, droughts, famines, and wars caused by climate change are all increasing rapidly.  Millions of people have already been displaced from their homes.  And the worst is yet to come, as the melting of the polar ice caps and permafrost accelerates and greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.  In a time of true climate crisis and climate chaos, the phrase "new oil pipeline" should not even be in our vocabulary.  The overwhelming consensus of scientists all over the world has concluded over and over again that human civilization must dramatically reduce emissions yesterday.  This means, at the very least, no new fossil fuel infrastructure. 


Based on the amount of carbon in the oil that a new Line 3 would move, building it would be roughly equivalent to building 50 new coal fired power plants.  Even if we ignore for a moment the carbon released into the atmosphere when the oil is refined and used, the enormous amount of electricity needed to power the pipeline and push oil through it makes Enbridge the largest energy consumer in Minnesota, with a total energy demand equal to the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant. 

Minnesota's Environmental Impact Statement for Line 3 includes some rough math estimating the cost of remediating, from the atmosphere, the carbon carried to market in a new Line 3.  Although a crude, incomplete, and culturally inappropriate method for calculating the impact of the project, the result is nonetheless telling.  The State of Minnesota calculated the "social cost of carbon" for a new Line 3 to be $287 billion over the first 30 years of the pipeline's life (and most of the pipelines in Enbridge's mainline corridor are 50+ years old).   


Across the globe, Indigenous people are the most impacted by climate change and the problems it is causing, even though they contribute relatively little to the emissions that are causing it.  This is because overall, Indigenous people are more closely tied to the land, and therefore more dependent on a healthy ecosystem and healthy natural resources to survive.  We are also generally less likely to be able to move when something goes wrong.  Climate change makes the challenges we are already facing that much worse - political and economic marginalization, loss of land and resources, human rights violations, discrimination, and lack of access to health care, education, and employment, etc.  However, our experience maintaining our cultures and surviving despite these challenges has also made us the most resilient and adaptive, and the keepers of the solutions to the global climate crisis. 

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“Man camps” are temporary housing facilities built to accommodate the predominantly male workers who come to an area to work on major development projects.  Research has documented the direct relationship between these camps and increased drug trafficking, sex trafficking, and violent crime - all of which disproportionately affect Indigenous communities in general and Indigenous women in particular.

Pipelines and other major resource development projects are typically located in rural areas, in close proximity to Indigenous communities.  The sudden influx of mostly settler, mostly male workers can sometimes triple the local population. “Man camps” are built to house these transient men, often in RVs and trailers.  In some cases, the facility may not be new, but the flood of out-of-town workers may transform an existing trailer park, campground, or apartment complex overnight.

Typically these camps foster a culture of drug and alcohol abuse, violence, misogyny, and racism.  Camp life exacerbates isolation, mental illness, and substance abuse problems, as the men face stressful, difficult, and potentially dangerous working conditions, often combined with large paychecks.  The result is often devastating for women, children, and Two-Spirit people in nearby communities and in the international sex trafficking industry that feeds them. This is one of the many causes of the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), of which Minnesota and neighboring regions are some of the hardest hit.  


Wild rice is the state grain of Minnesota.  But in many ways, manoomin, or wild rice, is also our lifeblood as Anishinaabeg – it is our primary economic, nutritional, and cultural resource.  When we migrated here from the east, we were guided by prophecies that instructed us to go “where the food grows on the water.”  Manoomin is our sacred food – used in many of our ceremonies, and often the first solid food given to our babies. Many of us eat it daily.  It is a special gift from the Creator, and we have a responsibility to protect it.

According to the EIS, construction of a new Line 3 along Enbridge’s preferred route would impact a total of 389 acres of wild rice in 17 different wild rice waterbodies (Table  All of these beds occur on the new part of the route (downstream of Clearbrook), where no pipeline has ever been before. This means that even before the inevitable spills, the impacts of a new Line 3 on our wild rice would be devastating, especially because much of our wild rice habitat has already been destroyed by development and is under attack by the mining industry.  


The proposed Line 3 route traverses an area that has been inhabited for thousands of years.  Because it cuts through the heart of lake and wild rice country, and traditional trade routes at the center of the continent, it endangers untold concentrations of historic, archaeological, cultural, and sacred sites - not only of the Anishinaabeg, its most recent inhabitants, but also the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota, and countless other ethnic and cultural groups.  

In 2015-2016, EPA researchers identified over 180 significant, already-known areas of traditional cultural use and sacred sites directly within the Line 3 pipeline impact zone.  These sites are subject to the archaeological assessment requirements of the State of Minnesota’s Indian Affairs Council, as well as federal requirements under the National Historic Preservation Act, the Executive Order on the Protection of Sacred Sites, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.   However, the State of Minnesota refused to seek an evaluation of these sites by the Minnesota Indian Affairs archaeological staff, according to their well-researched and established standards, as requested repeatedly by the impacted Ojibwe tribal governments.

The state of Minnesota has also failed to conduct a proper archaeological survey of cultural resources along the new route.  In January 2018, the 5 intervening tribal governments came together and filed a joint petition asking the PUC to postpone their permit decisions and route selection until the survey could be completed. The PUC refused. Since the State of MN had failed to conduct that survey, in 2017 the Fond du Lac Band took the initiative to do it themselves (at Enbridge’s expense) and even trained their own people to do it. But with only a small portion of the route finished, the PUC insisted on pushing ahead and issued permits in September and October of 2018.



Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if the pipeline will spill, but when. Enbridge promises pipeline safety, but history suggests otherwise. They’ve had over 800 spills in the last 15 years, including one of the most catastrophic oil spills in US history - 1.2 million gallons on the Kalamazoo River in 2010, which is still not cleaned up.  The existing Line 3 was responsible for the largest spill in US history, just outside Grand Rapids, MN, in 1991.

The bottom line is that for a given pipeline in any 10 year period, there is a 57% chance of a major spill, as documented by a US Department of Transportation study using PHMSA data.  (KAI 2012, Leak Detection Study – DTPH56-11-D-00001).  That’s worse than flipping a coin.


The proposed route for the new energy corridor established by the proposed Sandpiper and Line 3 Replacement pipelines traverses some of the most pristine lakes and wetlands in the region and some of the largest wild rice beds in the world.  It crosses Minnesota’s most delicate soils and shallowest aquifers. It is one of the worst places imaginable to build a pipeline.


The State of Minnesota’s Environmental Impact Statement for Line 3 acknowledges that the project will have “disproportionate and adverse impacts” on Native people (Section 11.5).  It fails to meet the basic standard of environmental justice. In other words, approving this pipeline would amount to environmental racism.

And it is not a question of location.  The EIS confirms that “any of the routes, route segments, and system alternatives would have a long-term detrimental effect on tribal members as a result of crossing treaty lands,” where members of signatory Ojibwe bands retain the rights to hunt, fish, and gather.

But despite this, they rubber stamped the project anyway.  The EIS is quick to point out that MN has no environmental justice provision with teeth: “A finding of ‘disproportionate and adverse impacts does not preclude selection of any given alternative.”


Line 3 would disproportionately impact tribal people, threaten resources critical to the survival of tribal communities, and exacerbate the already profound disparities in health access and outcomes that tribal communities face as a result of structural racism.  

The EIS acknowledges that “the impacts associated with the proposed Project and its alternatives would be an additional health stressor on tribal communities that already face overwhelming health disparities and inequities.”  These disparities were documented in the MN Department of Health’s 2014 report, “Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota,” which contextualized them within the history of attempted genocide against our people.

Tribal communities, in both the United States and Canada are already at risk communities, as evidenced by high rates of suicide, persistent poverty, and major drug epidemics.  Numerous studies and reports have linked these conditions directly to historic trauma, the history of colonization, and negative impacts of megaprojects.

Ojibwe socioeconomic conditions place our community at high health risks. The Amherst Wilder Foundation report on health inequities in Minnesota found that “the evidence strongly suggests that social and economic conditions and structural racism contribute significantly to the relatively poor health outcomes of the American Indian population in Minnesota.  They define structural racism as “the normalization of historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal dynamics that routinely advantage white people while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color and American Indians



One of the ways that destructive projects like this continue to get approved is through the fragmentation that comes with bureaucracy.  Each jurisdiction looks at its own small piece, and ignores what happens upstream and downstream. Instead, infrastructure impact analysis should start at the oil well and finish at the gas tank - from well to wheels.  It should include all social and ecological costs associated with the extraction, transportation, refining, and combustion processes. It should assess the impacts on the communities in all the places those things happen.


Tar sands crude is different from conventional oil.  It is solid, not liquid, so it’s extracted through an open-pit mining process rather than a drilling process.  Then it must be diluted with other petroleum products in order to transport it via pipeline.

The region of concentrated tar sands development in Northern Alberta, where Line 3 starts, is one of the world’s best examples of “extreme extraction.”  The carcinogenic and toxic pollutants put into the atmosphere and groundwater are at dangerously high levels and have done irreparable and widespread harm to the ecosystems of the area and to the public health of the largely First Nations communities who live there.  Many refer to it as a “sacrifice zone.” Few places have seen such extreme environmental destruction.

And in addition to the severe human health impacts that the First Nations have suffered as a result of tar sands extraction, they are also plagued by an epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, driven in part by the one-dimensional economy of extractive industry and the populations of transient men it brings.


Some of the oil carried by Line 3 will go to refineries, to be turned into gasoline and other products, and some will be exported.  Often the people living nearest the refineries are communities of color suffering from serious health problems because of the pollution in their neighborhoods.  This is environmental racism. One example is the Marathon refinery in Detroit. Its emissions are causing serious health problems in the African-American

neighborhood of Boynton, home to the most polluted zip code in the state, where the Michigan Department of Health has documented consistently elevated rates of cancer, respiratory disease, and kidney failure.  Emma Lockridge, a nearby resident, says “We don’t live next to the refinery, we live IN the refinery…it is just horrific. We are a sick community.” A reporter asked her what tar sands smell like, and she said “it smells like death. And that’s what it is.”

In 2012, when Marathon upgraded the facility to process tar sands, Marathon bought the homes of ~275 people in the mostly white neighborhood of Oakwood Heights, which is not directly in the prevailing path of emissions, unlike the mostly black neighborhood of Boynton. Marathon has left the people of color in Boynton to suffer, consistently denying their requests for buyouts and emergency evacuation. Lockridge, who like many of her neighbors has had kidney failure, says the message from Marathon and state regulators is clear: “Walk away or die…at the end of the day, they’re killing us. We have cancer, we have autoimmune illnesses, we have MS, we have chemicals that have come up into our homes through the sewer.  


Oil sands are one of the dirtiest fuel sources on the planet, and have caused leading scientists to call for a moratorium on further tar sands development.  Over 100 scientists have signed on to the call, all of whom are leaders in climate change research, economics, geophysics and biology.

A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences has shown that tar sands behave completely differently than conventional oil when spilled into waterways and wetlands, and that we basically don’t know how to clean it up.  It also produces more greenhouse gases than any other type of oil.




Because of high extraction costs and low oil prices, the mining of the Alberta Tar Sands is a rapidly dying industry.  Many companies are withdrawing their investments. Those that remain are borrowing against our children’s future, taking on massive amounts of debt to pay false dividends to shareholders and prevent them from fleeing.   Despite an industry forecast of increased production that justifies 1 new pipeline carrying tar sands out of Canada in the next 4-5 years, a total of 5 new pipelines have been proposed in recent years, and 3 of those projects are still alive (Line 3, Keystone XL, and Trans Mountain).   The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers forecast only a 644,000 barrel per day increase in production by 2020, a small fraction of the proposed 3.4 million bpd of additional pipeline capacity. This means that the customers for these projects themselves only see economic justification for 1 of these proposed new pipelines, even after ignoring all the social and ecological costs.  

Compared to conventional oil, tar sands crude is a lot more expensive to extract.  New oil development in the tar sands costs over $80/barrel(bbl). But since the end of 2014, oil prices have only ranged between $30 and $60/bbl.  So tar sands extraction is simply not economically viable in the long term. If gasoline prices don’t return to $3.00-$3.50/gal (equivalent to crude oil at $70-$85/bbl), the oil industry will go bankrupt - it’s that simple.  And tar sands producers will go first.

As a result, major oil companies have been withdrawing investments from the tar sands steadily over the past two years.  Many tar sands companies have gone bankrupt, and an early 2016 Deloitte report estimated that about one third of all oil producers were at risk of bankruptcy.


The MN Department of Commerce is the state agency responsible for conducting expert economic analysis to determine whether a new Line 3 is needed.  Their formal testimony in the Line 3 case relied on the work of Dr. Marie Fagan and Dr. O’Connell, who showed that Minnesota refineries currently have all the oil they need, and don’t use Line 3 much, so this project has very little benefit for Minnesota.  The conclusion of the DOC’s oil market analysis was that “Enbridge has not established a need for the proposed project; the pipeline would primarily benefit areas outside Minnesota; and serious environmental and socioeconomic risks and effects outweigh limited benefits.”  

Even in the face of the PUC’s permit approval decisions, the DOC has stood firm in their position that “Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.”  


Market demand is dropping in the United States, down 6% from a 2007 peak (and dropping rapidly in Minnesota, down 19% from a 2004 peak).  The largest emerging markets in the world - India, China, Brazil, etc - are developing renewables and electric cars at accelerating rates.  Meanwhile, working people continue to get relatively poorer, and many economists forecast an economic recession soon. All of these factors decrease demand, which in the short term keeps prices low.

So if US demand is declining, then where is all this North American oil going?  It’s being exported overseas. The mining of the Alberta Tar Sands has nothing to do with energy independence.  In fact, it was this steep rise in exports that flooded global markets with a glut of oil, which is part of what is keeping prices so low.  

The global energy transformation is already upon us.  Studies by the Energy and Resources Lab at the University of California at Berkeley have shown that renewable energy sectors generate more jobs per unit of energy delivered than the fossil fuel sector.  



Line 3 was built in l96l and is now at the end of its life. According to Enbridge data, it currently has over 900 “structural integrity anomalies,” including corrosion and long seam cracking. As a result, it has experienced a number of failures during its 55 years of history. Enbridge is now operating the line at reduced volumes and pressures, to reduce the chances of a catastrophic rupture. Fixing these “anomalies” is very expensive, so Enbridge wants to abandon the pipeline, walk away, and build a new one in a new corridor.

For some of the best information on pipeline abandonment, visit the website of the grassroots landowner organization, Minnesotans for Pipeline Cleanup.  


The pipeline likely has many sites of contaminated soil and water around it already, from old leaks and spills, and the worsening “structural anomaly” problem. There is likely also contamination from residual oil, lubricants, treatment chemicals, and pipeline coatings. When discovered, this mess, and the expense of cleaning it up, could become the responsibility of landowners.

Pipeline abandonment also has an enormous hydrological impact.  And as it corrodes, the pipe will slowly allow water to enter, and eventually transform into a water conduit that could easily drain a wetland or small lake, or flood a farm field. Unnatural drainage of areas such as muskegs, sloughs, or marshes would affects the natural balance of the ecosystem and increase the risk of soil and water contamination.  Any water that infiltrates the pipeline is likely to carry residual contaminants left in the abandoned pipeline as it flows

For more information, see our Pipeline Abandonment Factsheet.  


The US has vague and inadequate laws on pipeline abandonment, so the responsibility to protect landowners and the public from the risks created by abandoned pipelines rests with the states.  But the State of Minnesota has no clear abandonment laws or guidelines either.

Because Line 3 is the first major crude oil pipeline to be abandoned in the state, the MN Public Utilities Commission’s decision to avoid their responsibility to regulate pipeline abandonment sets a dangerous precedent.  The State of MN gives Enbridge the power of eminent domain to build its pipelines, but once they die, Enbridge is allowed to leave behind what is likely a superfund site.

If Enbridge is not required to remove the pipeline and restore the damaged ecosystems, there may never be a full accounting of the on-going and future contamination surrounding the pipeline.  This raises much larger questions about what the end of the fossil fuel era will look like - are we just going to leave it all in the ground and pass the mess on to our grandchildren?


Days before the MN PUC’s meetings to make final decisions on Line 3 permits, and fearing a possible permit denial, Enbridge announced a long list of wild last-minute promises to sweeten the deal.  The one that captured headlines was their offer of a “Landowner Choice Program,” by which landowners along the existing Line 3 route could choose to have the pipeline removed from their land. This announcement came as a surprise, as Enbridge had insisted for years that removal is neither safe or economically feasible.  The PUC was skeptical, since the proposal contained few details about how the program’s legal and jurisdictional foundations, or how it would actually work.  Eventually Enbridge admitted that yes, the plan was to offer landowners money to let them abandon the pipe. The PUC decided that was a great plan.

Faced with the costs of digging up and removing an old pipeline, along with the inevitable contamination they will find underneath, Enbridge will approach these landowner negotiations with very deep pockets.  And these are some of the poorest areas in the state of Minnesota. That kind of power imbalance, especially in light of Enbridge's consistent track record of dishonesty and bullying, makes informed consent and “landowner choice” impossible.  Enbridge even says in the document that they don’t expect to remove much pipe. This is not a proposal to remove the old line, it is a proposal to throw money at the problem, sweep it under the rug, and pass it on to future generations. The PUC shirked their responsibility to regulate this mess and instead chose to just throw each individual landowner to the dogs.




Although the regulatory process for Line 3 improved somewhat after Standing Rock got the world’s attention, it has been profoundly dysfunctional from the start, and tribal governments and tribal people have been consistently silenced and excluded.  We do not have space here to include the long list of ways that the PUC and other state agencies discouraged and actively blocked public participation, silenced the voices of Native people, disrespected the tribes, ignored feedback, contradicted themselves, broke promises, and otherwise pushed this pipeline down our throat.   

Starting with the Sandpiper permit process, we spent years asking the State of Minnesota to initiate formal consultation with tribal governments about the project, and they refused.  This was a violation of basic principles of tribal sovereignty as well as Governor Dayton’s Executive Order 13-10, which requires state agencies to consult with tribes (the PUC claimed exemption).  It is also a simple issue of disrespect.  Not only are Native communities disproportionately impacted by the project, but tribal governments and tribal people have expertise in cultural, historical, and environmental matters related to the proposed route.  That knowledge and experience has been repeatedly ignored.  

In early 2016, the White Earth and Mille Lacs Bands filed a formal motion to be designated cooperating agencies in the EIS process.  Around the same time, the federal EPA wrote a letter to the PUC noting the lack of tribal involvement in the process and calling on them to consult with the tribes.  That letter was not posted to the Line 3 docket until about 4 weeks later. It seems it was intentionally withheld until, conveniently, a few days AFTER the PUC meeting where the tribal motion was denied, without Band representatives even getting a chance to speak.   

In fact, MN agencies have been consistently hostile to the concept of tribal consultation, and have ignored and denied repeated requests by at least 5 Ojibwe Band governments and the National Congress of American Indians.   Over and over again, we were told that tribal consultation means allowing tribal members and even tribal officials to drive to public hearings in the middle of nowhere in the depths of winter, wait their turn, and provide a 3-minute comment that is promptly ignored.   

Another small example to demonstrate the pattern: the PUC meeting to approve the Sandpiper permits was scheduled 2 weeks earlier than the notices given to the tribes.  The White Earth and Mille Lacs Bands were so frustrated, they held their own, tribal hearings, and wrote letters to the PUC asking them to postpone their decision until the testimony collected at those hearings could be included in the record.   The PUC ignored that request and approved the CN on the very same day Mille Lacs’s tribal hearing.


After Standing Rock, the state realized they needed to scramble and contact the tribes ASAP.  They hired Danielle Oxendine-Molliver to be the tribal liason for the regulatory process, but just a few months later, she resigned in protest of the way she and other tribal people were being treated and the way tribal concerns were being ignored, tribal issues swept aside.  Indeed, she was muzzled and abused - told to stay quiet and pass out cookies at events - after Enbridge complained to the Governor that she was advocating for tribal interests too genuinely.  

The structure of the EIS shows clearly how tribal engagement was added on after the fact as window dressing instead of integrated into a substantive review of the project and its impacts.  Tribal issues and concerns, and impacts on tribal communities, were isolated into their own chapter instead of being incorporated into the main chapters where they would be given due consideration.  This allowed for the acknowledgment of all kinds of powerful truths about genocide, structural racism, disproportionate impact, and cultural resources - but often with the qualifier that it was “from an Ojibwe perspective,” or that “all the route alternatives have the same problems.”

The state of Minnesota has also failed to conduct a proper archaeological survey of cultural resources along the new route.  In January 2018, the 5 intervening tribal governments came together and filed a joint petition asking the PUC to postpone their permit decisions and route selection until the survey could be completed. The PUC refused. Since the State of MN had failed to conduct that survey, in 2017 the Fond du Lac Band took the initiative to do it themselves (at Enbridge’s expense) and even trained their own people to do it. But with only a small portion of the route finished, the PUC insisted on pushing ahead and issued permits in September and October of 2018.


From the start, the regulatory process for Line 3 has been designed and executed in Enbridge’s favor.  For the most part, it has followed Enbridge’s timeline, taken their word as fact, and worked to serve their corporate interests rather than the interests of the public.  A few examples:  

In 2014 and 2015, Enbridge applied for and received 12 permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), for storage yards across Northern Minnesota used to stockpile pipe for the proposed Sandpiper and Line 3 pipeline projects.  In a letter to Enbridge, the MPCA acknowledged that those permits were issued illegally, because state law prohibits agencies from issuing any permits for the project until the environmental review is complete.  It is a common sense law designed to minimize bias in the process. But despite relentless pressure from intervening parties and citizens, the State has refused to do anything about it.  

A quick skim of the Environmental Impact Statement also shows clearly how much the deck is stacked in Enbridge’s favor.  It is a 5000+ page document that took more than a year to write, but in the first few pages, you can tell that its purpose is to approve a pipeline, not assess its potential impacts.  The “project purpose” is defined as what Enbridge wants, not what the public needs in order to maintain crude oil supply, and all the “alternatives” are defined and structured so that they will obviously not accomplish that “purpose!”  Much of the discussion of construction and environmental protection measures is simply copied and pasted from Enbridge’s applications - lists of all the things they have promised to do - with no plan for enforcement, or scientific conclusions about what they should do.  

And in the end, none of the mountains of evidence throughout 5 years of regulatory process documenting disproportionate impact on Indigenous people, lack of need, climate change, spill risk, etc, were judged as important as the fact that Enbridge simply wants a new pipeline.  Their need for profit outweighed all the years of analysis of social and ecological costs. The PUC’s approval of Line 3 in June, 2018, even went contrary to recommendations by the DOC, who concluded a lack of economic need for the project, as well as to the recommendations of Minnesota’s environmental agencies – the PCA and DNR, who both testified that Enbridge’s proposed new route would have the most environmental and social impacts out of all the options.  

Enbridge now has the powers of eminent domain to build this pipeline, on grounds that it is a public utility providing a public benefit. This allows them to take property without landowner consent, just as governments do to build roads and schools.  Sometimes it’s almost possible to forget that Enbridge is a private, Canadian corporation that will earn billions in profit by shipping privately owned oil for privately owned oil companies.