On Tuesday, March 7, hundreds of concerned community members will attend the US State Department’s only public meeting on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the expansion of the Alberta Clipper crude oil pipeline, which transports tar sands across the lake country of Northern Minnesota, including the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac Reservations. A rally outside the event will include traditional Ojibwe drumming and jingle-dress dance, and local leaders will hold a press conference.
Earlier that afternoon, Honor the Earth will join a coalition of environmental groups in holding a “Solutions Summit” to highlight clean energy technologies that tribes and other Northern communities are already employing, to lead the transition off fossil fuels. Five local renewable energy leaders including Honor the Earth's Executive Director, Winona LaDuke, will present and answer questions. Then we will march from Rail River Folk School to the meeting at the Sanford Center.
This is technically a meeting about the SEIS prepared for the expansion of the Alberta Clipper Pipeline (Line 67) where it crosses the US-Canada border, but it is in effect also a meeting about the proposed new Line 3 pipeline and its border crossing. Let us explain. The Alberta Clipper was already expanded 2 years ago, through an illegal scheme that violated federal law and common sense by using a piece of the proposed new and not yet permitted Line 3 pipeline. In 2015, with blatant disregard for the law, the environment, and Indigenous rights, the State Department allowed Enbridge to build a small piece of the new Line 3 and then funnel all the Alberta Clipper oil into it - we call this the "double-cross" or "switcheroo" scheme, and it was the basis of a lawsuit against the State Department led by the White Earth Nation, Honor the Earth, and our allies.
Now President Trump's State Department, including the new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (former Exxon CEO), is getting its paperwork in order, and trying to approve the expansion of the Clipper and the new Line 3 pipeline with as little public involvement as possible. What he may not realize is that Standing Rock has sparked a historic resurgence of Indigenous Nations across Turtle Island, and we are bringing that energy to the Great Lakes to fortify our resistance and stop the proposed Line 3 pipeline in its tracks. Please join us as we continue to build our resistance.
HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS (AND SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS):
The most powerful way to engage in this process is by showing up at the public meeting in Bemidji on March 7th (see link above for details). But you can also submit written comments (due on March 27th).
Here is the public notice of the draft Supplemental EIS and the announcement of a public meeting in Bemidji on March 7th.
You can submit comments at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “Enbridge Line 67” into the search field and following the prompts. Written comments should be addressed to: Ms. Mary D. Hassell, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW., Room 2727, Washington, DC 20520.
Whether verbal or written, here are some suggested talking points:
- This is a Supplemental EIS for potential impacts of something that was effectively approved 2 years ago! The Alberta Clipper was expanded in 2015 and the additional oil was allowed across the border through an illegal scheme that violated federal law by using a piece of the proposed new and not yet permitted Line 3 pipeline - the "double-cross" or "switcheroo" scheme.
Federal law requires a new border crossing permit for Line 3 but they’re not doing it. It’s not a replacement. Double capacity, bigger pipe, different type of oil, new corridor. This is all explicitly prohibited in the 1991 Presidential Permit.
- The Federal government is shirking its responsibility via other agencies. Chippewa National Forest is not doing a supplemental review for the additional capacity on Clipper, in violation of its special use permit. US Army Corps is not doing a Federal EIS on Line 3.
Content flaws with the SEIS
The SEIS recognizes environmental justice issues related to disproportional impact activities to Leech Lake and Fond du Lac, but rated these impacts as “negligible” and “minor”.
Inadequate analysis of impact on critical tribal resources, rating the potential impact from a spill on tribal resources as “negligible” and “moderate.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Even in least increase scenario, a 3.7 million metric tons of co2 equivalents is forecasted, with 81 mmt the high end. The SEIS calls this a “moderate effect.” Also, the analysis does not take into account increased GHG emissions from the Line 3 downstream expansion that a Clipper border crossing expansion could allow to move forward.
Incorrectly identified connected projects: Enbridge clearly induces and enables the MinnCan pipeline and increased refining in the Twin Cities area. Enbridge itself acknowledges that the pipeline projects—Alberta Clipper, Southern Lights, and LSr are connection actions.
According to the SEIS, occurrence of catastrophic spills has gone down, yet overall amount of spillage is going up. Enbridge's average is among the worst of all pipeline companies.
Crude by rail transport vs. pipeline: it is not inevitable that this tar sands will get to market w/o a pipeline permit, but the no action alternative in this analysis falsely assumes that tar sands comes out of the ground and to market by rail if there is no pipeline permitted.
- No updated economic analysis of the economic unviability of tar sands production, given current low oil prices.