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Minnesotans should support the Youth Climate Intervenors fighting Line 3 pipeline

Adele Welch

Can you imagine 13 youth going against a multinational, multibillion-dollar corporation? Here in Minnesota, we have a group of our own. Thirteen Youth Climate Intervenors, ranging from ages 16-24, have been inside and outside the courtroom fighting Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 pipeline in northern Minnesota since last summer. Their outspoken bravery in upholding the health, legal rights, and environmental protection of all people is admirable. As forward-thinking and sensible Minnesotans, we need to support their efforts.

Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline would be a dangerous investment in fossil fuels for our state, and the Youth Climate Intervenors show us why. The project would rebuild more than 1,000 miles of the existing Line 3 pipeline, carrying Canadian crude oil into the country on a new route through indigenous land and precious waterways. While the probability of a major spill is low (though Enbridge caused the biggest mainland oil spill in U.S. history near Grand Rapids in 1991), the likelihood of pollution accumulation for vulnerable communities is high. The bottom line is, we young people know that any endorsement of fossil fuels is unsustainable and unjust. It’s time we all join the Youth Climate Intervenors in reimagining an economic and social future for Minnesota that is based on renewable energy and environmental justice.

As a formal intervening party in Enbridge’s permit process case, the Youth Climate Intervenors have been working tirelessly to bring distinct legal arguments against Line 3 to the Public Utilities Commission. Many Youth Climate Intervenors object to the pipeline because of its impacts on indigenous land, life, and cultural resources. In fact, its construction on Ojibwe land through wild rice beds would break longstanding treaty rights and disproportionately pollute Native communities, who already face health disparities. Other Intervenors want to uphold Minnesotans’ abilities to hunt, fish, practice spirituality, and safely enjoy our 10,000 lakes. Finally, many cite the importance of transitioning away from fossil fuels to sustain our state’s healthy water, air, land, and economy for the rest of our lives and for future generations.

The Youth Climate Intervenors and other young climate activists have compromised their daily responsibilities and private lives to spread the message that benefits us all: Minnesota has no business with crude oil. Besides the legal work managed by the Climate Intervenors, a group of indigenous youth finished their 250-mile symbolic paddle through northern Minnesota waters to protest Line 3 in early September. Today, young activists continue to occupy a pipeline resistance camp near the proposed building site. Others have organized community rallies, listening sessions, and fundraisers in the Twin Cities to sustain one anothers’ work. As a youth climate activist from Minneapolis myself, I am particularly moved by my peers’ commitment and urge others to join in solidarity. 

The Youth Climate Intervenors show what it looks like for each one of us to have a stake in the collective well-being of Minnesota. The group is made up of diverse individuals from different schools, hometowns, ages, and racial and cultural backgrounds. The strength of their coalition shows us the possibilities for connection across difference, and gives us examples of how to articulate our own personal involvement in environmental justice. By supporting the Youth Climate Intervenors, we are trusting the narratives of those directly affected by corporate pollution and climate change, and asking ourselves what role we can play as allies in the process.

So, whether you live near the proposed pipeline route, or believe in upholding indigenous cultural rights, or want to continue fishing or camping in unpolluted waters, or desire a just transition to a renewable energy economy in Minnesota, we all have reasons to join the 13 Youth Climate Intervenors in their battle against the Line 3 pipeline. Fortunately, we’re not alone — tribal governments, environmental groups, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce are also united in legal opposition to Enbridge. As members of the public, we can talk about Line 3 in our social circles, keep up with the news, attend public hearings and community events, sign up for the mailing list on stopline3.org, and/or donate to Line 3’s resistance camp, Camp Makwa. Most of all, the Youth Climate Intervenors deserve our gratitude and encouragement.

Don’t hesitate to get started. The Public Utilities Commission is expected to grant or deny Enbridge’s permit to build the Line 3 pipeline in late June. 

Adele Welch is a student at Macalester College in St. Paul.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by dan buechler on 04/09/2018 - 12:01 pm.

    Safey for the urban population

    You and I live near a pipeline right now. It is in my backyard. Its called the Mpls/St. Paul railroad switch yards. I drive a Honda Fit below the speed limit. But I would rather have a pipeline in a rural area than near the U of MN or both downtowns and their neighborhoods. Won’t you be my neighbor? we have also cohoused but the systems are set and hopefully there are better ways to tackle problems.

  2. Submitted by dan buechler on 04/09/2018 - 12:14 pm.

    Support your ideas and commitment

    The spill was in Michigan nevertheless the PCA plan that routes it along highways for better access is best. Enbridge needs to give and obey the courts.

  3. Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/10/2018 - 01:41 am.

    Hmmm

    This is the second recent piece in Minnpost on this issue that is long on rhetoric but short on actual facts. I’d like to have someone explain to me why the project is bad. The fact some Macalester kids oppose it doesn’t really do it for me.

    Wouldn’t replacing an existing pipeline make things safer/less likely to have spills?

    • Submitted by Adele Welch on 04/10/2018 - 01:08 pm.

      Hi Pat, I’d direct you to the opposition brief of the Youth Climate Intervenors for more specific arguments against Line 3: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58a3c10abebafb5c4b3293ac/t/5a6a1939652dea7a9630c08e/1516902715603/YCI_BRIEF.pdf Similar fact-heavy documents can be found for all of the other legal intervenors as well (MN Department of Commerce, Tribal governments, Sierra Club, etc.)

      Many of us object to the endorsement of ANY new pipeline, even if it its infrastructure would be “safer” (but for how long?) We have other energy options in Minnesota we should be using our money and resources for. The time is now to stop our dependency of fossil fuels. You may call me idealistic, but that’s what I and other young people are fighting for!

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