victory for enbridge line 3 water protectors in minnesota

(The Victory comes with caveats, of course.)

It’s been a long battle, beginning as early as May 11, 2017.  From on that date:

‘Water Protectors Gather at Enbridge Shareholder Meeting in Calgary to STOP LINE 3’

“Today, community members, First Nations and US Tribal members rally together at the annual general meeting (AGM) of Enbridge Inc to demand respect of Indigenous rights, protection of water, and life. The Indigenous groups and individuals present represent a newly forming cross-border alliance to stop Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 pipeline expansion project. US Tribal members will lead a water ceremony and jingle dress dance outside the Enbridge AGM starting at 12:30pm.”

 “Tar sands development is in direct violation of Indigenous rights and further driving us into climate catastrophe. Enbridge supports continued tar sands expansion that destroys and poisons ecosystems and watersheds our communities rely on. Tar sands projects – from extraction to pipelines and refineries – are annihilating treaty rights and leaving a legacy of cancer, respiratory and autoimmune diseases and a destabilized climate for future generations,” says Eriel Deranger, member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.”

The Line 3 expansion corridor will threaten several waterways, ecosystems, and aquifers. When the Line 3 project spills, as all pipelines do, it will contaminate land and water systems with cancer-causing chemicals. Recent spills, like Enbridge’s massive spill in Kalamazoo, MI, have brought irreconcilable harm on the environment as clean-ups have not been successful.

Now you may remember this from 2016: Trudeau cabinet approves Trans Mountain, Line 3 pipelines, rejects Northern Gateway; Projects will pump nearly a million more barrels of oil a day from Alberta’s oilsands to global markets, John Paul Tasker, CBC News, Nov 29, 2016

I’d thought I’d remembered that shortly after that announcement, Trudeau had also approved the Northern Gateway, and it must have been so according to Honor the Earth:

“In 2016, the Anishinaabeg and people of Minnesota defeated Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper Project, and now stand ready to defeat Line 3. Similarly, the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project was stopped by the Unistoten Clan, Yinka Dene Alliance, many First Nations and environmental organizations. This newly formed cross-border alliance to stop the Enbridge Line 3 expansion project knows that Indigenous rights can stop development projects. Similarly, Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal project is named in a Canadian Supreme Court challenge by the Chippewas of the Thames on duty to consult, which is awaiting ruling. When Free, Prior and Informed Consent is not respected, it costs companies millions of dollars in litigation, project delays, and shaky investor confidence.”

Now this news:Direct Action In Minnesota As Line 3 Pipeline Approval Reversed’,

By Andrew Neef,, June 5, 2019

“Near Park Rapids, MN – On Monday, June 3, 2019 three water protectors shut down work on power lines along the proposed Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline by locking themselves to construction equipment. The same day, the Certificate of Need and Routing Permit for Enbridge’s Line 3 was “Reversed and Remanded,” by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Monday’s happenings continue years of a mixture of direct action and legal battles by environmental and indigenous groups against the proposed Line 3 project.”

“While water protectors took action to shut down Line 3 construction, the paper war continued in the state as the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with a coalition of tribes, indigenous rights groups and environmental groups with an opinion which stated,

“We agree that the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] is inadequate because it does not address the potential impact of an oil spill into the Lake Superior watershed. Accordingly, we reverse the commission’s adequacy determination and remand for further proceedings consistent with this decision.“

“Enbridge stated their disappointment in a post on their website but also pointed out that the court had sided with them on eight of the nine disputes. Enbridge ended their response post by saying,

“We are in the process of a detailed analysis of the court’s decision and will consult with the MPUC and other state agencies about next steps.“

Neef again:

“The courts decision wouldn’t of have stopped the construction the three water protectors took direct action to stop. A press release from the Ginew collective which describes itself as a grassroots, frontlines effort led by indigenous women to protect Anishinaabe territory from the destruction of Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands project,” gave statements on why the three water protectors took action.” and quotes the three.”

It’s a foregone conclusion that Enbridge will have ‘next steps’, and I’ll add that unfortunately both of Neefs links to the appeals court went to Page not Found’, but I’ve dug this further explanation out:

‘Court: Potential Line 3 oil spill in Lake Superior watershed must be studied’,, June 3, 2019:

“Although we reject most of relators’ assertions of error, we agree that the (Final Environmental Impact Statement) is inadequate because it does not address the potential impact of an oil spill into the Lake Superior watershed. Accordingly, we reverse the commission’s adequacy determination and remand for further proceedings consistent with this decision,” Judge James Florey wrote in the majority opinion.

In appeals and during March oral arguments, environmental and tribal advocacy groups argued the environmental impact statement left out the potential impact to Lake Superior and tribal resources.

The court did not challenge the eight other points disputed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement appeal, including the pipeline’s impact on tribal resources.”
Winona LaDuke, co-founder of Honor the Earth, which filed the appeal along with Friends of the Headwaters, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, White Earth Band of Ojibwe and Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, said she was happy with the court’s decision on a Lake Superior study, but disappointed in the court’s decision not to challenge the study’s findings on tribal resources.

“We are elated that the decision on Lake Superior waters was made … However, by failing to uphold the requirement for a cultural survey of our Akiing, the land and waters in treaty territories, the Court and State have failed to recognize obligations to Anishinaabe people and the state,” LaDuke said in a statement Monday afternoon.”

‘Cultural survey’ in this case is supposed to include sites sacred to the Indigenous and First Nations people on Turtle Island.

But this is fascinating news, and Go, Gov!

“Monday’s Court of Appeals opinion does not weigh the appeal filed by Gov. Tim Walz’s administration that claims the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission erred granting Enbridge a certificate of need because the company did not present a demand forecast.”

Walz had refiled that appeal, which was filed by former Gov. Mark Dayton in the final days of his administration. He told the News Tribune Monday afternoon that his administration and general counsel would be reviewing the Court of Appeal’s opinion.

“This is totally separate from the certificate of need,” Walz said of the opinion.”

(cross-posted at

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