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A Message to Joe Biden: Stop Line 3

Isn't it time to stop creating dangerous crude oil infrastructure?

People protest against the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline project outside the Governor's Mansion on November 14, 2020 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

People protest against the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline project outside the Governor's Mansion on November 14, 2020 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden is expected to visit Milwaukee on February 16, and while he is in our state he needs to recognize a major threat to Wisconsin's and Minnesota’s well-being: plans to expand a dangerous and unnecessary tar sands crude oil pipeline network through our states.

Those pipeline plans risk squandering a fortune in fresh water: the public waters of Lake Superior, the upper Great Lakes and other Wisconsin and Minnesota waters. 

"Enbridge's Line 3 is not just unwise and unwelcome. It is offensive."

Enbridge, Inc., a Canadian oil pipeline company, wants to construct Line 3 across Minnesota to upgrade its capacity to ship tar sands crude oil south.

Biden has the power to stop these ill-advised plans and restore common sense to public policy. He recently canceled the permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a wise move. 
 
Why risk tomorrow’s water for yesterday’s petroleum product?
 
Why should Wisconsin and Minnesota put up with what British Columbia and Nebraska will not: a tar sands pipeline export scheme that is all risk and no reward for local citizens?
 
Key fact: Alberta tar sands promoters need a route to saltwater to get their product to the world market. The shortest route would be through British Columbia to the Pacific Ocean but British Columbia doesn’t want it.
 
Ferocious resistance by ranchers and indigenous nations in British Columbia motivated the oil companies to try longer routes through the United States to the Gulf Coast.
 
Nebraska ranchers and tribal nations fought the Keystone XL pipeline for a decade. Biden recognized the problem and  canceled that pipeline’s permit on January 20, his first day in office.
 
Today, another tar sands pipeline project is emerging as a major threat. Enbridge wants to create a tar sands superhighway through Minnesota and Wisconsin (from Superior to Delavan) and on to the Gulf Coast.
 
Minnesotans filed 72,000 public comments about Enbridge’s plans to construct its line 3 across the state to connect to that company’s hub in Superior, Wisconsin. Of those 72,000 comments, 68,000 opposed the project.
 
Despite that massive wave of public opposition—and pending lawsuits—Enbridge began construction in December in an obvious effort to create facts on the ground before the Biden administration took office.
 
Enbridge’s Line 3 is not just unwise and unwelcome. It is offensive.
 
Line 3’s construction threatens the wild rice beds, sacred sites and treaty rights of Objibwe sovereign nations across Minnesota.
 
Resistance to the pipeline construction work, as at Standing Rock, is steadily growing.
 
Tar sands oil products are notorious for their emissions and damage to our planet’s climate. Those emissions are significantly worse than standard oil.
 
Tar sands oil is also more dangerous to nearby waters and neighbors because it is notably difficult to clean up when spilled. Tar sands oil does not float on water, it sinks. In addition, tar sands crude is highly abrasive, stressing pipeline components.
 
Enbridge’s safety record is alarming. Just 150 miles east of Milwaukee an Enbridge tar sands pipeline burst, polluting the Kalamazoo River in 2010. The cost for the cleanup, damages and restoration from that incident is over one billion dollars.
 
Isn’t it time to stop creating dangerous crude oil infrastructure?
 
I believe the American people are a can do people and they are ready to roll up their sleeves and create a clean energy system that grows good jobs—and does not threaten the health of our waters, our communities, and our planet. 
 
Contact President Biden. Empower him to do the right thing: stop Enbridge’s Line 3 project.
 
Future generations will thank you.
 
For more information see stopline3.org

Eric Hansen

Wisconsin author Eric Hansen is a nationally recognized conservation essayist. ehansen@wi.rr.com

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