Oblate Presence and Solidarity with Native Americans in Minnesota Pipeline Controversy
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
Thanks to Fr. John Cox, OMI and Fr. Séamus Finn, OMI
In December of 2020, construction on a replacement pipeline began in Northern Minnesota in spite of protests from environmentalists and Native American groups whose land is crossed by the pipeline. A description of the pipeline was found on the Minnesota Government website:
“According to the owner, Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, the purpose of the Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project is to replace the Minnesota portion of the existing Line 3 pipeline (built in the 1960s) to: 1) address known integrity risks, 2) reduce apportionment due to decreased transport capacity related to integrity issues, and 3) restore flexibility to the Enbridge Mainline System for more efficient operation. The new Line 3 pipeline would have an annual average capacity of 760,000 barrels per day and would serve the same markets and transport the same products as the existing Line 3 pipeline.
Operationally, the new Line 3 pipeline would continue to transport crude from Canada to the Enbridge terminal facility in Clearbrook for subsequent delivery to Minnesota refineries via interconnected pipeline facilities operated by Minnesota Pipeline Company, and would deliver crude oil to the Superior Wisconsin terminal for subsequent delivery on the Enbridge Mainline System to refineries in the Midwest, Eastern Canada, and the Gulf Coast.”
Much of what will be transported through the pipeline is not conventional crude oil, but tar sands. Oil sands or tar sands are sand and rock materials which contain crude bitumen, a thick and viscous liquid like molasses. The end product of oil sands is conventional oil; however, the process to extract it is much more expensive and environmentally harmful as compared to other methods, such as oil rigs.
A recent article on the project by Winona LaDuke, which appeared in The Nation and has been re-printed in NCR https://www.ncronline.org/news/earthbeat/stopping-last-tar-sands-pipeline-will-take-all-us came to the attention of the Oblate Director of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, Fr. Séamus Finn, who contacted Fr. John Cox, OMI, Mission Director in Waubun, MN, who works extensively with the Native American community in the area impacted by this project. Fr. Séamus was seeking an opinion from someone with first-hand knowledge of this politically-charged situation.
According to Fr. Finn, “I forwarded the email and the article referenced in it to John Cox to get his read on the situation and his response is below. I really appreciated the way John took time to not only share his thoughts on the pipeline but also to tie it together with his experiences in overtown in Miami 25 years ago. A nice historical connection with OMI ministries over the years and his own personal reflection.