Frustrated by 4 years of bold, Indigenous-led resistance to their proposed pipelines in Minnesota, Enbridge’s most recent strategy was to try to fast-track their Line 3 project by passing laws at the state level to bypass the regulatory process. But we stopped them once again. The campaign to stop Line 3 grows stronger by the day.
This spring, Minnesota’s Republican controlled legislature tried to pass 3 different laws to force pipelines down our throats. In the end, none of them were successfully passed.
The first was a blatant handout to Enbridge that would have allowed the State to skip the Environmental Impact Statement it is currently writing for Line 3, skip the entire permitting process, and green light construction to start on July 1st. This proposal was clearly unconstitutional - Minnesota does not allow laws for specific corporations - and is probably best seen as nothing more than an aggressive bullying tactic. In response to relentless pressure from grassroots groups and the Indigenous Women’s Legislative Caucus to reject this proposal, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton made it clear he would veto it, and the Republicans removed it from the bill.
The other two proposed laws were in some ways more dangerous, as they attempted to gut Minnesota’s environmental regulations for ALL future oil and gas pipelines, not just Line 3. One would have exempted all pipelines from the State’s “Certificate of Need” requirement, which is perhaps its most important regulatory tool - it is the only part of the permit process that can actually stop a project. The other would have prohibited the State’s environmental agencies from considering any alternative pipeline routes that have different start or end points from the company’s proposal. This would have allowed pipeline companies to define the parameters of a project based on whatever is most profitable, instead of what is best for people and Mother Earth.
Although both of these proposed laws were handouts to the entire oil and gas industry that would have devastated Minnesota’s environmental regulations for decades, they were also clearly designed to fast-track Line 3. Enbridge and their GOP cronies know that they will have a hard time demonstrating the “need” for the project during the upcoming Certificate of Need process, and state agencies have already identified alternative routes that would get oil to market with significantly less human and environmental impact than the route that Enbridge wants. Both of these proposed laws were approved by the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives, and were sent to Governor Dayton to be signed into law on May 15th. Emboldened and pressured by the fierce opposition of a broad coalition of grassroots groups and the Indigenous Women’s Legislative Caucus, Governor Dayton vetoed the bill that very same day.
The legislature then went to work revising the bill, and in the end, removed both pipeline provisions before sending it back to the Governor for a second try on May 22. The final bill still has a lot of terrible stuff in it - devastating attacks on water quality regulation and renewable energy policy, handouts to mining corporations, etc. - but our campaign to #StopLine3 came out unharmed. Our successful defense against a legislative session that has attacked not only the environment, but also workers’ rights, immigrant rights, health care, everything, is a testament to our long-term strategic organizing and the progress we have made globally in changing the conversation about pipelines.
There is much work yet to do. Let’s take a deep breath, celebrate this victory, and then focus on the path forward. The State of Minnesota just released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), and announced 22 public meetings to gather public comment before finalizing it. The DEIS acknowledges that the project will disproportionately impact Indigenous people and threaten the treaty-protected resources that are critical to the survival of tribal communities...but states that this acknowledgment of environmental racism and constitutional violation is not a reason to deny the permit. So we must continue to build our resistance. We are strengthening our alliances, supporting the Ojibwe tribes standing united in opposition to Line 3, and waging battles in the media, in the courtrooms, in the streets, at the banks, and on the land. Please join us. We are water protectors, and the frontlines are everywhere.