Efforts to stop the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline (which runs from the Alberta tar sands through areas of the Midwest) replacement project have ramped up in recent weeks, including support from right here in Boston.
Local organizations like the Boston node of 350.org, Mothers Out Front, the Sierra Club, and others have advocated for the creation of jobs in renewable energy and to stop gas pipelines and leaks in Greater Boston for years, but now, national attention has been placed on Line 3 in recent weeks as activists in Minnesota protest against the pipeline for protection of treaty rights of Native American tribes in an area of Minnesota where the pipeline is proposed to be expanded. The pipeline also poses a number of environmental concerns, activists say.
Jackie Royce, a Boston resident and a member of many of local environmental groups, said that these organizations have “stopping pipelines as a high priority.”
Many have compared the Line 3 pipeline to the Keystone XL pipeline, which was recently stopped by the Biden administration, and now the goal is to tell President Biden to do the same with Line 3, which began construction in Minnesota in December 2020, according to Enbridge’s website.
As a former Minnesota resident, Royce said she is “particularly interested” in the Line 3 pipeline project and she, along with residents Pamela Musoke and Sandy Weinstein, brought signs to the Boston Women’s Memorial on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall on January 10 that read: “PRESIDENT BIDEN: YOU CAN’T ‘BUILD BACK BETTER’ UNLESS YOU BUILD BACK FOSSIL FREE” to help send the message to President Biden that they believe the pipeline should be stopped.
The statues of Lucy Stone, Abigail Adams, and Phillis Wheatley donned masks along with Royce, Musoke, and Weinstein as they stood “in solidarity with tribes in Northern Minnesota,” according to Royce.
“If they were alive today, they would go to the front and demonstrate,” Royce said. “They would publicize what was wrong about that,” she added, speaking about the Line 3 pipeline.
“Today’s government just disregarded the treaty that this is their land,” she said of the Native American tribes. “They would never have allowed polluting of their sacred wild rice or their rivers that they fish from.”
Royce explained that groups across the country have disseminated information about different actions people can take, and “they send a description of what people should do” to support this effort from where they are if they cannot make it to Minnesota. They include things like making posters and signs with a message like the one Royce, Musoke, and Weinstein were holding to send a message to President Biden to stop the work on the pipeline.
Royce said that spreading the word about this issue is important, and showing her support through the photos and signs was one of the ways she could help.
Deb Pasternak, Chapter Director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club, said that “getting behind this fight on the Line 3 is a priority for the Sierra Club. On the federal level, there’s advocacy going on, and the Minnesota chapter is in the fight as well.”
She said the Massachusetts Chapter is “showing up for partners when asked to,” and she believes that there are opportunities for the creation of permanent jobs in the renewable energy field that could provide a stable living for those who work on pipelines like Line 3, as those who support the pipeline have said shutting it down would cause the loss of jobs.
She said local jobs can come from wind and solar energy industries. “There’s a big opportunity for good paying jobs both in the erection and the building and the operations,” she sad, as well as “in the manufacturing components for these industries. It’s a way the US can build back better.”
She said that the Line 3 pipeline is “sending money out of the country to bring in this dirty fuel,” and “also polluting our environment in the process instead of creating green energy and building our local economy.”
Pasternak said she realizes that “pipeline workers are impacted workers,” but “it’s our responsibility to make sure the workers are given the opportunity to transition into new jobs that are equally good paying with equal benefits, or that they can pursue whatever oath they want to choose,” but she said the construction of pipelines has to stop.
She added, “I do think that this project is very much like Keystone. It’s crazy that if we have an opportunity not to build this that we would build this.”
Michel said that “building a pipeline is a one-time job,” and that people from across the county were hired to work on the Line 3 pipeline, not just Minnesota residents.
“I have great compassion for the skilled labor in this country and the ways in which they’ve been squeezed,” he said. “These people are awesome, but they’re doing the wrong job.”
James O. Michel, also part of multiple climate advocacy organizations both local and national, said that from a “climate lens,” the Line 3 pipeline is certainly a risk, but he believes the “more egregious” thing about it is that it violates Native American treaty rights in Michigan where the pipeline would cross.
Michel said that as a part of Yet-To-Be-Named Network, which “works at the intersection of climate resilience and racial justice,” he “organized an expedition out to take direct action in northern Minnesota at the beginning of the month.”
He also explained that aside from the Line 3 pipeline, there are others coming from Alberta including the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Biden has revoked the permit for, the Line 5 pipeline into Michigan, and the Dakota Access Pipeline, about which Michel said that “courts have found that it was never legally permitted; that the environmental impact statement study wasn’t correct.”
Michele said that Enbridge is “facing numerous court battles with respect to violation of indigenous treaty rights” as well as the inadequate environmental impact study. “We need the administration to intervene,” he said.
On a local level, Michele said he’s been “fighting gas pipelines here in Boston,” adding that “this is not an industry that we want to expand; at this time we should be taking apart gas pipelines…and leaning hard into renewable energy technologies and sources.”
He said that this includes things like building solar farms and offshore wind farms, and “building better buildings in the City of Boston.”
Michel also said that “the more I read, the more I learn, the more I get upset,” and “the more I feel called to act. I spend my time trying to awaken my fellow citizens in getting them prepared to act. This is unacceptable.”
He said that “there’s a robust climate justice community here in Boston. Our pants are on fire; we’re on fire,” and he said that taking action now will positively impact future generations. “We only have one planet,” he said, “so we should all care about that.”