By Susu Jeffrey Original to Rise Up Times January 8, 2021
Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Walz is restricting bars and restaurants, exercise, entertainment and event spaces, adult and youth sports, and gatherings with people outside your bubble while inviting 4,200 construction workers to Indian Country to build a tar sands oil pipeline that has been opposed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
The Enbridge Line 3pipeline is foreign-owned. This Canadian multinational’s pipeline is not a “replacement” pipe. It is a new 330-mile long, 36-inch diameter pipe in a different location from the existing 282-mile long 34-inch pipe. The old pipeline could push up to 500,000 barrels of thick, dense sandy oil per day. The new pipeline would transport 760,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest, most expensive oil dug out of the earth.
See below for information from the water protectors and details about the Saturday, January 9th rally in Palisade, MN
Aside from tearing up Minnesota’s topography, sucking profits out of local markets and preparing for oil dependency for generations, there are two domestic problems:
1) a raging COVID-19 pandemic and
2) the plummeting demand for gasoline.
At best experts estimate a 10-year recovery period for America’s depleted economy. Meanwhile cars, trucks and transportation systems are electrifying.
Squandering this opportunity to convert to renewables is “wasting a good crisis.” Normally, demand fuels supply. In this case the supply is so inflated that oil prices have bounced lower and lower. Still, there’s talk of “opening up the Artic to oil drilling.”
“Despite traffic reductions of more than 40 percent,” National Public Radio reported (5/19/2020), ground-level ozone, or smog is hardly decreasing because the chemicals emitted by cars, trucks, factories, refineries and petrochemical plants react with sunlight and heat.” Heat, for example, like the hottest year on record as 2020 is likely to be.
TEMPORARY JOBS — PERMANENT POLLUTION
Line 3 construction jobs are estimated to last nine months at a cost of $7.5-billion. Canada stands to profit by $400-million. The original Line 3 pipeline was constructed in 1961—so the new Line 3 might be active for another 60 years, until 2080, exacerbating carbon dumping into the air.
The new Line 3 can transport 3-million barrels of sands oil daily.
Line 3 crosses more than 200 brooks, creeks, streams, rivers (the Mississippi, twice), ponds, canals, perennial or intermittent ditches, branches, lakes, 800 wetlands, not to mention roads and rail crossings.
ALL PIPELINES LEAK
Enbridge has had 800 spills in the past 15 years. In 2010 the largest inland spill occurred in the Kalamazoo (Michigan) River—1.2-million gallons. After a decade of clean-up the spill cost in excess of a billion dollars.
Tar sands oil is so thick it sinks and mixes with soil making it impossible to separate out and remove. After years of trying conventional oil clean-up methods Enbridge dug up the river bottom and cooked it, transferring the toxins from the soil into the air. There is no “away” in a round world.
The Enbridge/Alberta sands oil in Line 3 is aimed at refineries in the Midwest, eastern Canada and the Gulf Coast. Consider reading the word “export” for tar sands oil to eastern Canada and the Gulf Coast. There goes president-elect Joe Biden’s plan for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Line 3 crosses the headwaters of the Mississippi (south flowing), Hudson Bay (north) and the Great Lakes/Laurentian Divide (east) emptying into the Atlantic, in other words, every great drainage system in North America except for the Columbia River, the Colorado and the Rio Grande.
The Columbia, fourth largest U.S. river, drains Washington’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation which is a radioactive sieve and the most nuclear contaminated site in our country. The Colorado arrives at the Gulf of California mostly dry. The Rio Grande sometimes reaches the Gulf of Mexico dry.
In the state named for water, Minnesota (mni in Dakota is water), Gov. Walz lectures daily about COVID, COVID, COVID. Yet he welcomes 4,200 construction workers to live in over-priced man camps for nine months sexually serviced by Anishinabe comfort girls from near-by reservations where poverty is endemic and COVID is pandemic. (See William Kent Krueger’s novel Windigo Island.)
The seven Anishinabe bands of northern Minnesota are being targeted not just for their land, water and copper-nickel but their daughters, sisters and mothers. Native Minnesota population is 1.1 percent but represents about 8 percent of missing and murdered women.
Gov. Walz chose to run with an Anishinaabeg lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan, whom we have not heard from on indigenous rights. However the public has been loud, strong and consistent for six years against the rape of Minnesota wild rice and wetlands. Seventy-thousand people testified against Line 3. Of those comments, 94-percent were in opposition.
GREAT RIVER ROAD (HIGHWAY 10), NORTH OF PALISADE, MN
WHY WOULD WALZ GIVE AWAY OUR WATER?
In a state with 17,000 lakes it is difficult to understand the governor’s ignorance about groundwater contamination. Born in 1964, Walz hails from Chadron, a rural Great Plains northwest Nebraska town where he grew up and went to college for a bachelor degree in social science education.
Walz retired from the Army National Guard as a Master Sergeant after 24 years (1981-2005), while teaching high school geography and coaching football in Mankato. He won six consecutive terms in the US House (2007-2019) before deciding to run for governor. He is considered a moderate, loyal Democrat who supports human, veteran and women’s rights, and works across the aisle.
Despite teaching geography Walz has no environmental record except that he is “not a Pollyanna” and will “follow the science” on Line 3 theoretical guarantees. There is deep and old money to keep the gas flowing and extreme pressure on state permitting agencies regardless of clear climate-change evidence.
The IPCC, United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (organized in 1988), has been issuing grim reports on climate change by thousands of scientists worldwide. The gist of the series of IPCC assessments is that individual governmental promises have not been kept. With consistent noncompliance, local political deciders have moved to focus on technical fixes because there is no climate vaccine.
POLYMET AND TWIN METALS
In addition to the Enbridge Line 3 threat to northern Minnesota land, water and Anishinaabeg treaty rights, two copper-nickel mines are slated for the northeast Arrowhead region.
Copper-nickel mine permitting is an expensive legal dance of two steps forward and one back until the interveners run out of money and state environmental regulators and courts collapse under political pressure. The pressure comes in the form of largess: years of high-priced legal paper battles, contributions to friendly candidates, advertising propaganda about “jobs” and “progress” and favorable news reporting.
There is a maxim that companies that treat the earth badly usually treat their workers the same way. There is another saying that all politics is local, except that all politics is economics.
PolyMet is a shell company for Glencore, an international octopus conglomerate of 150 mine, metals and oil producers. The Swiss/Canadian company plans to use old iron ore mine land six miles from Hoyt Lakes in the Superior National Forest for the copper-nickel mine for its 20-year mining reign boom that will be followed by the inevitable bust.
The PolyMet copper-nickel mining plan would blast 500-million tons of rock in two new mine pits to a depth of 700 feet below the surface. The ore chunks would be transported to an old brownfield site from mining activities since the 1950s where it would be crushed and ground into powder.
Powdered rock would be watered into muck and heated in steam-pressurized tanks to separate minerals from the 99 percent of waste ore. Yearly production is estimated to yield 36,000 tons of copper, 7,700 tons of nickel, 360 tons of cobalt and 7,200 pounds of precious metals. The nickel, platinum, palladium and gold would be transported off-site for further processing.
And here’s the rub, copper-bearing rock contains sulfites so the 99-percent waste rock needs to be contained indefinitely. PolyMet is in the Partridge River watershed, a headwater tributary to the St. Louis River that empties into Lake Superior at Duluth. It is also on the cusp of the Continental Divide that separates east-flowing groundwater toward Superior and the Great Lakes from north-flowing water to the Rainy River and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).
Not all the waterflow models agree. Some of the modeling shows groundwater flowing northward into the BWCAW via Birch Lake. The problem is water moves, it changes course, it’s underground and invisible.
Ten percent of the waste is high level and will be sequestered in a “liner” before it is returned to one of the open pits to be flooded and thus not exposed to air. However 89 percent of the 500-million tons of ore becomes waste rock to be stored in perpetuity in a permanent mound atop an old waste bank to the height of a 22-story building. Leakage is expected and will have to be treated for a minimum of 200 years.
Surrounding wetlands will be affected. Heavy metal toxicity has profound and varied impacts on human health. Waste ponds tend to leach contamination slowly into the lands and waters for centuries—if they don’t breach and spill massive amounts of poison sludge into the environment.
The blood of our state, our water, is being sacrificed to multinational wraiths. Who on earth would support such a potential disaster?—Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Gov. Walz who all want reelection and support the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party corporate doctrine. Klobuchar also has worked for years to delist the wolf as endangered as if wolves are a greater threat to the environment than industrial toxins.
Anishinaabeg treaty usufructuary (land use)—survival rights to hunt, fish, gather wild rice and medicinal plants, to continue their culture and way of life—is also being violated.
So much for PolyMet. The Twin Metals story is underground mining with above ground waste tower but it is within the BWCAW watershed and will probably not be permitted. The political “compromise” that is being floated is to allow PolyMet but not Twin Metals.
POPE FRANCIS ON ECOLOGIAL SIN
Since 2015 Pope Francis has been issuing teachings on ecological sin and has added a critique of neo-liberal faith in capitalism juxtaposing greed against green. The Dalai Lama speaks as well to the need for collective action and an end to forest destruction.
Christian evangelicals have warned about the sacrilege of defiling God’s creation, yet the rich get richer and the earth gets dirtier. In fact, climate change has taken a back seat to COVID-19 news as if the two are not related by increasing demands of population displacing natural habitats.
Whether the earth is “alive” or climate change is merely a feedback loop is a circular argument resulting in a continuation of the (worsening) status quo. Legally there is a drive to issue “rights” to pieces of the natural world—like a river, as if it is not part of a water cycle connected to the worldwide water cycles.
Water and oil don’t mix. The Line 3 sands oil pipeline grows across northern Minnesota while copper-nickel mining advocates talk about jobs, jobs, jobs in the water-rich economically distressed northland not yet serviced by universal broadband. Water is easily polluted, expensive and time- consuming to clean. Broadband infrastructure could open the job market to the rest of the world.
Let’s not keep calm and carry on. Let’s tell truth and make change.