More than a dozen water protectors rallied Friday outside a storage yard in Backus, owned by Canadian company Enbridge Energy, where workers with Gordon Construction had been moving heavy equipment.
At 4 p.m., water protectors from across Minnesota, including organizers with Northfield Against Line 3, unfurled banners and chanted “Stop Line 3” and “No Pre-construction!”
This afternoon’s acts of civilian oversight build off of a decade of growing opposition to the proposed Line 3 pipeline, which would be one of the largest crude oil pipelines in the world. Carrying up to 915,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wis., Line 3 crosses the Fond Du Lac Reservation and the 1842, 1854 and 1855 treaty areas.
“Line 3 would violate the 1854 and 1855 Ojibwe Treaties, which guarantee the Anishinaabe people the rights to hunt, fish, gather, harvest and cultivate wild rice, and preserve sacred or culturally significant sites in their traditional homelands. Line 3’s proposed route puts sensitive ecosystems at risk, including 15 watersheds and 215 lakes, and its associated carbon emissions would further destabilize the global climate,” the Northfield Against Line 3 group said in a press release.
Concerned citizens had noticed that preparations had begun at the storage yard for moving of heavy equipment since Wednesday, when matting began to be laid at the site. Matting is the laying of wooden boards to reinforce the ground to accommodate the weight of heavy equipment. On Friday, it was observed that workers were moving heavy equipment out of the site, galvanizing water protectors to rally at the site in opposition.
The Northfield Against Line 3 group also said the action drew attention to Enbridge’s continued preparation for the construction of Line 3, despite Line 3 having yet to receive full approval from state and federal regulators. Enbridge’s permit applications for the proposed pipeline to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers remain under review. Enbridge’s actions in Backus effectively undermine the regulatory process, highlighting the further need of civilian oversight to hold Enbridge accountable to the public.