On July 2, three SE Ohio elders, Judy Smucker, Claudia Sheehan, and Anne Sparks, blockaded an Enbridge Line 3 pipeyard near the Mississippi headwaters in northern Minnesota. Their action halted operation of the facility for over three hours, after which they were extricated and jailed in Hubbard County jail.
The three women, part of Athens County’s Future Action Network (acfan.org), came together to take further action against Line 3 after ACFAN’s Athens Line 3 March 29 solidarity rally. Last week they went to Line 3, where their action was supported by the Giniw Collective, as were 14 lockdowns and 28 arrests at another Line 3 worksite the previous day. The three Ohio women received felony theft charges for “stealing” the gate they were locked to. They were released Saturday afternoon after $5000 bail was posted for each of them (with no 10% provision allowed), a new level of retaliation and intimidation by Hubbard County for Line 3 arrestees.
Line 3, an Enbridge pipeline, will carry over 700,000 barrels* and perhaps as much as 900,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil, the dirtiest fossil fuel, from Canada to the Great Lakes. Greenhouse gas emissions from these tar sands will be equivalent to emissions from fifty coal-fired power plants. The new line currently being laid is crossing tribal lands against treaty rights, as well as crossing 200 bodies of water, affecting 800 wetlands, and threatening Indigenous wild rice lakes and livelihoods. While Enbridge claims the new line is a safety measure (though Enbridge is responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history), the route is new, the amount of oil to be carried is greater than ever, and the amount of pristine land being disturbed and water being consumed by construction are astronomical.
(*A barrel is 42 gallons, meaning close to 38 million gallons a day may flow through this pipe.)
Judy Smucker said, “I’m here as a Grandmother. I have grandchildren and a family that I love. We are at a great moment in our history, a tipping point. Mother Earth has given us all these gifts for free: clean water, clean air. We have to take care of it. It’s the heart of everything: we take care of mother earth, she takes care of us.”
Claudia Sheehan noted, “Action is very important. Without action there is complacency, and with complacency we give the greed in the world a chance to grow. You have to stand up for your beliefs, you have to allow the spirit to move you. Take action, find your spirit that’s going to guide you and go with it.”
Anne Sparks added, “Action is crucial now, and there are actions that everyone can take. Start learning. What is the connection between our everyday customs, habits, especially consumerism, and a pipeline threatening Native lands in Minnesota? That’s a connection we are taught not to see. So we have to learn and take action.”
President Biden recently came out in support of Line 3. In an interview for Grassroot Ohio Radio on Friday, the three women urged people to contact Biden and demand he come to Line 3 to see what his decision and Line 3 mean for the land, the people, the water, and climate. It was 94 degrees in northern MN this weekend, also the week in which a Canadian town burned to the ground, fire erupted in the Gulf of Mexico, and hundreds died from the extreme heat in the U.S. northwest.
Note: Contrary to many people’s assumptions, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) continues to carry oil. The KXL is the only pipeline that Biden canceled, one of many ongoing fossil fuel buildout projects. Many are sites of protest and legal challenges, none of which Biden has supported.
Follow Line 3 actions with Giniw Collective on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @GiniwCollective. Follow Athens County’s Future Action Network activities on ACFAN.org and fb.