June 13 2017, Tania Aubid of the Mille Lacs Band signs up to comment at the Fond du Lac DEIS hearing.  Photo by Jaida Grey Eagle

June 13 2017, Tania Aubid of the Mille Lacs Band signs up to comment at the Fond du Lac DEIS hearing. Photo by Jaida Grey Eagle

10 Things Tribal Communities Need to Know About the Line 3 DEIS

The DEIS for Line 3 is open for public comment until July 10th. Get involved!

Enbridge wants to abandon their crumbling Line 3 pipeline in our lands and build a new one in a new corridor through our lakes, wild rice beds, and treaty territories. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Line 3 pipeline found that every single option for the project would have long-term detrimental effects on tribal communities. Most of the issues specific to tribal people and resources are confined to a separate chapter that attempts to provide “an American Indian perspective”, siloed and excluded from the main chapters that assess potential impacts. The 5000+ page document attempts to justify why the oil industry’s need to profit is greater than the need of the Anishinaabeg people to survive.

These are the 10 ways the Line 3 DEIS has failed to serve tribal communities of Minnesota:

1. No Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Tribal Nations

Enbridge seems to have learned nothing from Standing Rock. Nowhere does the document say that free prior and informed consent of Tribal Nations must be attained through formal Nation-to-Nation consultation before any plans or decisions are made for this pipeline.

 The State of Minnesota doesn’t seem to understand the basic concept of tribal sovereignty. The route alternatives compared in the DEIS include two routes, called RA-07 and RA-08, that would cross the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac Reservations, despite the fact that the tribes clearly will not consent to a new pipeline. Enbridge’s “preferred” route would skirt reservations boundaries while still crossing watersheds and lands of 1855 Treaty Territory. This is a clear attempt to circumvent tribal consent.

 2. Disregard for the Health of Tribal Communities

Chapter 9 of the DEIS acknowledges that impacts on tribal communities “are part of a larger pattern of structural racism” that tribal people face in Minnesota. The DEIS also states 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”, but concludes that is "insufficient reason" to deny the project.

3. No Consultation or Plan for Protecting Sacred Sites

Just as we saw in North Dakota, the assessment of archeological artifacts were performed by the company, whose best interest is to put the pipeline through their preferred route at any cost. Enbridge admits that 63 sacred sites are slated for destruction, but claims that only 3 are eligible for protection under the National Register of Historic Places ( Pipeline corporations cannot be trusted to understand and implement protections for our numerous sacred sites.

4. No Protections for Wild Rice lakes

The DEIS acknowledges that “traditional resources are essential to the maintenance and realization of tribal lifeways, and their destruction or damage can have profound cultural consequences.” It also shows that Enbridge’s preferred route would “impact more 1855 Treaty Territory wild rice lakes and areas rich in biodiversity than any of the proposed alternative routes.” These sensitive areas would be the worst place for a tar sands oil spill.

5. Line 3 is Guaranteed To Spill

The DEIS estimates the annual probability of different kinds of spills on the proposed route:

Pinhole leak = 27% (once every 3.7 years)

Small Spill = 107% (once every 11 months), Medium = 7.6%, Large = 6.1%

Catastrophic = 1.1% (once every 87 years)

Basically what this means is that in 50 years, the 1855 treaty territory can expect 14 pinhole leaks, 54 small spills, 4 medium, 3 large, and 1 catastrophic spill. 

The DEIS also contains no spill analysis for tributaries of the St. Louis River (which is already a toxic superfund site) or Nemadji River, where a spill could decimate our sacred Gichigami, Lake Superior. 

6. No “Wells to Wheels” Assessment of Impact

 There is zero discussion of how Line 3 starts at the sacrifice zone of the Alberta Tar Sands where Dene and Cree people continue to be poisoned, raped, and murdered by the most extreme extraction project in the world. Further, there is no mention of how with 370,000 bpd of additional capacity, Enbridge will need a new pipeline departing its terminal in Superior. We know that they plan to expand pipelines through Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk territories in Wisconsin to accommodate. Finally at the end of the line, refineries are poisoning communities of color. Residents live with fear of kidney failure, autoimmune diseases and cancer and early death due to chemical exposure from massive refineries. This big picture must be considered to truly assess the impacts the Line 3 pipeline.

7. No Plan to Hold Enbridge Accountable

 Neither the State of Minnesota nor the Federal Government have a plan for enforcing environmental regulations for Line 3. When searching through extensive databases of Enbridge’s spill history, the numbers often disappear once they hit the reservation line. How many spills have already ruptured in our communities without any response or reporting?

Many of the DEIS’s environmental impacts and plans for minimizing them are drawn directly from Enbridge’s permit application without any evidence of compliance or genuine consideration that Enbridge won’t follow all the rules.  History shows that they continually violate permit conditions.

 8. No Plan to Stop Sex Trafficking in Pipeline Man-Camps

 The DOC assumes “all workers would re-locate to the area” and zero construction jobs will go to Minnesotans. We are all too familiar with how “the addition of a temporary, cash-rich workforce increases the likelihood that sex trafficking or sexual abuse will occur”.But the DEIS dismisses this problem quickly, saying that “Enbridge can prepare and implement an education plan or awareness campaign around this issue” (11.4.1). That is in no way an assurance that our women and children will be any safer come 2018 when construction is slated to begin.

9. Inadequate Assessment of Abandonment

Enbridge’s current plan is to cap off the crumbling old Line 3 pipe in sections and leave it in the ground for landowners to take care of, setting a dangerous precedent for future pipelines in Minnesota, including the NEW Line 3. The risks of abandoning pipelines are not adequately assessed in the DEIS. There is no discussion of the dangers of exposed pipe, how fast it will corrode, or how much currently buried pipe will become exposed once it is emptied. These rusting pipes are conduits, and could one day drain a lake or wetland and dump toxified water onto farm fields. What is the plan for cleaning up the contamination from the countless spills that have already occurred along Line 3? There is also no mention of the abandonment of the other 3 ancient pipelines in Enbridge’s existing mainline corridor (Lines 1, 2, and 4), which we expect Enbridge will very soon attempt to follow suit. It should also be known that Enbridge will stop paying taxes to the MN counties along the mainline corridor. For many of these poor northern counties including the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations, revenue from Enbridge’s property tax makes up a significant portion of the county budget.

10. The “No Build” Option Is Not Genuinely Considered

The DEIS includes an option of the “Continued Use of Existing Line 3” (Chapters 3 and 4), but nowhere is the “No Build” Alternative considered. Enbridge already has a massive pipeline corridor leaking across our territories. It is not the responsibility of our communities to continue to sacrifice our waters and lands so the a foreign corporation can maintain their bottom line. When will the is the “Shut Line 3 Down Because It’s Falling Apart and Poisoning Our Communities” option be considered?

J  uly 13 2017 Indigenous dancers rally outside the St. Paul DEIS hearing.  Photo by Jaida Grey Eagle

July 13 2017 Indigenous dancers rally outside the St. Paul DEIS hearing. Photo by Jaida Grey Eagle

 As Indigenous communities, we have a covenant with the Creator to protect Mother Earth. This DEIS does not ensure protection of the environment, but instead serves to prove that society needs X amount of oil simply because Enbridge says they can sell it. That assumption ignores the massive fossil fuel subsidies and debts that make Enbridge’s profits possible, and avoids the moral question of what is good for people and the planet.

The fires lit at Standing Rock are still burning, and if Minnesota attempts to build the Line 3 pipeline, there will be indigenous resistance. As Dawn Goodwin said at the Leech Lake DEIS hearing, “All of us, the berry pickers, the gatherers, the harvesters, we are trying to continue our way of life but this is impeding on it. We don’t want to stand for it anymore — we’re not going to stand for it.”

The DEIS for Line 3 is open for public comment until July 10th. Get involved!