By Russ Bennett
Are you reading this by headlamp, in the North woods of Minnesota? If not, may I suggest a trip in your near future?
In early March, a friend and I went up there. We wanted to experience first-hand the resistance to the building of a new and expanded Line 3 pipeline. Enbridge’s Line 3 is virtually identical in its purpose to the Keystone XL pipeline, which Biden stopped on his first day in office. Line 3 will carry a slurry of chemicals and tar sands crude oil and bitumen between destroyed forests in Alberta, Canada and Duluth, MN/Superior, WI. It eventually becomes gasoline before being shipped to overseas markets. We were told the carbon from this pipeline will be the equivalent of building 50 new coal-fired power plants, something this planet cannot afford.
The pipeline resistance is led by the indigenous people of the area, as the pipeline crosses many miles of tribal land, as well as treaty-protected waterways. There are now four different resistance camps located along the hundreds of miles of Minnesota pipeline. I can only share observations of one camp, during one week in March. Let me first share the Not Great News:
At our camp, the law enforcement presence was massive and unpleasant. Our camp usually had two police cars watching us 24 hours a day, but at times there were four or five. At one point the vehicle I was in was pulled over three times in the course of an hour, with three written tickets. Mine was for my right tires touching the right shoulder ‘fog line’ ( I’m contesting the charge; court date pending). I found it shocking to learn that this entire law enforcement effort is paid for by Enbridge itself, through a special fund set up for this purpose.
Also in this category of “Not Great News”: Despite great training and support all week, logistics got the better of us regarding the major planned non-violent civil disobedience action at the end of the week. It just didn’t come together.
And now for the Definitely Uplifting News:
There are some phenomenal people up there who are throwing their hearts and souls into stopping Line 3, doing whatever it takes — for as long as it takes — to stop this pipeline. They definitely deserve our support.
That support is SO appreciated. We delivered 200 pounds of organic food, donated via Extinction Rebellion Madison, and supplied ten foot-wide rolls of banner material. We were put to work right away doing various art projects, and stayed busy all week.
(NOTE: Just two days ago I spoke with people who have been working on this fight for years. After a very tough winter, they were growing weary and feeling rather alone. But then along came the recent Build Back Fossil Free campaign of 350, and a sense that now there is a growing understanding in the country of the importance of the fight to stop Line 3. )
Interested in going up there? The camp we were at was intense. We were outside the entire week, except for the time driving to the pipeline. The muddy road was often impassable. But there are great opportunities that are less high risk (and with many more housing options) at the “Welcome Water Protectors” Camp, organized by Honor the Earth, in Palisade, Minnesota. Check out their website, as well as StopLine3.org.
They are especially interested in getting a large number of people up there in early June. Stay tuned.
We are personally grateful to have had the experience of being there, and have no doubt that you will be too, if you go.
It is always inspirational to see people who are living and breathing the values that demonstrate that, indeed, a better world is possible.
Russ Bennett is a 350 Madison volunteer. He is particularly involved in efforts to stop the construction of new pipelines in Wisconsin. Russ is also one of the leading members of 350 Madison’s Art Group, which puts together banners, light brigades and projections, performance art, and other displays highlighting the importance of fighting the climate crisis.
Note: photos were prohibited at the volunteer resistance camp.