Stop the Enbridge Ecocide! | The nation
On the morning of Monday, June 28, without warning, Sheriff Cory Aukes of Hubbard County, Minnesota, began an armed blockade of Camp Namewag on privately owned, native-owned property south of Park Rapids, where protectors of the ‘Water and Biden Resistant Anishinaabe Allies – Enbridge’s approved, non-treaty Line 3 is based. In early June, thousands of resistance fighters had converged on the route of Line 3 nearby, and nearly 200 were arrested while engaging in non-violent direct action to stop construction. More than 700 have been arrested in the resistance campaign so far, with more arrests every week.
The Line 3 Project, a diverted extension of Enbridge’s existing Line 3 Line, will initially transport approximately 760,000 barrels per day of highly toxic, carbon-rich oil sands crude from open pit First Nations lands in the forest boreal from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, traversing pristine native wetlands in northern Minnesota and threatening the sources of the Mississippi River. Once operational, this pipeline would represent carbon emissions equivalent to 45 or 50 new coal-fired power plants, or 38 million cars, even as the global climate emergency accelerates.
Sheriff Hubbard’s blockade prevented vehicles from entering or leaving the Namewag camp, effectively cutting off food and water supplies amid a brutal heat wave. A sheriff’s deputy was taped saying, “Yeah, we’ve blocked them. Every time they come out, hell breaks loose.” A lawyer for water conservationists described it as “nothing less than an overt political blockade”. Or as the Giniw Collective, the indigenous women’s group leading the # StopLine3 campaign, noted on their must-have Facebook page: âKeeping the wild natives trapped, where have we heard this story before? “
S1,500 miles east, around 11:30 am a m on Tuesday, June 29, a group of about sixty protesters for climate justice suddenly converged on the office building in Waltham, Mass., outside of Boston, where Enbridge is headquartered in the northeastern United States. Eighteen nonviolent resistance fighters, aged 22 to 80, blocked the entrance to the Enbridge Suite on the third floor, ready to be arrested. I was among them. We have acted in solidarity with the Anishinaabe people who resisted Line 3 in Minnesota, as well as the labor and environmental communities put at risk by Enbridge’s potentially deadly and clearly unnecessary fracking gas compressor station in Weymouth. , in Massachusetts.
Our demands were simple: immediately and permanently rescind the repressive blockade of the Namewag camp by the Hubbard County Sheriff; immediately stop construction of line 3; close the Weymouth compressor station; shutting down the Enbridge West Roxbury fracking gas pipeline to Boston; and closed the Alton Gas project, supplied by Enbridge, threatening Mi’kmaq land and water in Nova Scotia.
Rather than go out and talk, Enbridge ran and hid; its employees fled the building through an emergency exit. As the Waltham Police threatened, cajoled and tried to shame us (“What you do is as bad as Enbridge”), 13 of us occupied the entrance to the third floor suite for 24 hours. Wednesday afternoon, the second working day, when Enbridge still refused to acknowledge our demands, three resistance fighters were arrested for peacefully insisting on staying put.
Enbridge continues to hide its face as it engages in massive ecological destruction, endangering human lives and state-sponsored human rights abuses.
In this territory alone, more than 800 wetlands, 200 bodies of water, 22 rivers, this is what Enbridge seeks to contaminate with its tar sands. Tara Houska, lawyer and founder of the Giniw collective, said Democracy now!It’s Amy Goodman Friday. Houska noted that Enbridge bills Line 3 as a âreplacementâ project, but it is not. âIt’s a whole new pipeline and a whole new route,â she told Goodman. âThey want a new hallway. There is no pipeline at the places we are talking about. There is nothing there. These are just pristine ecosystems.
The Giniw collective and the # StopLine3 campaign are demanding that the Biden administration suspend the project and order a review of the water crossing permits issued under Trump. The state-level environmental impact statement, they point out, did not take into account the risks of (almost inevitable) oil spills and impacts on “tribal cultural resources”, such as wild rice paddies. sacred to the Anishinaabe people, as well as the impacts on climate change. If Biden orders a review and applies the same standard that forced the Obama administration to reject the Keystone XL pipeline (which Biden himself gave the coup de grace when he took office), then, as Houska puts it, “There is no way it will pass the test.”
With Minnesota in severe drought, Houska points out, and rivers and lakes at extremely low levels, Enbridge is proposing to take 4.9 billion gallons of water for construction (a process called “dewatering”). âThere are pump trucks all over the rivers, all over the lakes,â she told Goodman. “I saw completely dry and bare rice beds, and see something like that and know what’s going on all over the world, knowing that here in Minnesota we are settling down. [temperature] records almost every day in June because it is very hot. And here we are developing the fossil fuel industry.
MMeanwhile in Massachusetts, the multi-year struggle against the scandalized Enbridge compressor station in Weymouth, which is part of a pipeline system planned to transport fracking gas from Pennsylvania to Nova Scotia. to export it to the world market, has taken on a new urgency. Adjacent to two densely populated environmental justice communities, the Weymouth compressor has experienced at least four unplanned and unexplained emergency shutdowns since last September, most recently in May, resulting in significant releases of methane and carcinogenic compounds, including benzene , toluene and xylene. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is now considering an unprecedented review of Enbridge’s license to operate the compressor station.
âThe health and safety of the inhabitants of the Fore River Basin has never been examined once by the FERC, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the administration of Governor Charlie Baker, or any environmental or public health agency. , federal or state, âAlice Arena, President of Fore River Residents Against Compressor Station, told me via email. In addition, she said, âthe need for the project has never been proven by Enbridge. In fact, National Grid and Eversource, two of its biggest customers, said in November 2019 that they did not need the Weymouth compressor to meet their national deliveries.
In an expert brief filed with FERC in April citing “demonstrable violations of safety and environmental protocols,” wrote Boston University environmental scientist Nathan Phillips, “the precedent he would set to allow a high pressure gas installation in a high consequence [i.e. dense urban] area to go into full operation despite an inconclusive conclusion after a recent emergency failure would have national implications. Additionally, Phillips noted that the compressor station’s greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to 1.1 million additional cars on the road (about 20% of the Massachusetts total), make it grossly incompatible. with federal and state climate policies, the implications of which are global. .
Phillips was among the Enbridge resistance fighters arrested at Waltham last week. With members of the Weymouth community battling the compressor station, his moral testimony includes not only expert testimony but also non-violent civil disobedience.
On June 22, the International Criminal Court in The Hague received a proposal from a group of experts to define “ecocide” as an international crime to be prosecuted alongside crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of aggression and genocide. As Inside Climate News reported last month, âLegal scholars have said the crime of ecocide could be used to hold accountable those most responsible for major environmental damage, including executives of companies, insurance companies, finance and government. Even taking the crime into account, they said, could indicate that mass destruction of the environment is now considered one of the most morally reprehensible crimes in the world.
Pope Francis has endorsed the campaign to make ecocide the âfifth crimeâ at the ICC. Joe Biden might want to be careful. The world may never drag the CEO of Enbridge Al Monaco before The Hague, but if the concept of ecocide gains traction, he and those like him, including politicians like Biden and Justin Trudeau who enable operations of his business, may well be charged with First Order moral criminals.
Yet there is this other enduring crime of immeasurable magnitude that cannot and must not be forgotten. What Enbridge is doing on Anishinaabe lands in Minnesota, and what the fossil fuel industry and its political and financial backers are doing to cause a global climate catastrophe, is nothing less than a continuation of genocide against the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the South world that began half a millennium ago. Regardless of what we call these crimes – ecocide, genocide, crimes against humanity, or whatever name is yet to be conceived – the blood of generations past, present and future cries out from the ground.
Solidarity begins with listening to this cry and does not stop there. Solidarity is more than just a word.