Direct Action to Stop the Other Pipeline
Keystone XL gets most of the press, but many other oil pipelines criss-cross the country--including four that run through land restored by the Interior Department in 1945 to the Red Lake Anishinaabe Nation in northern Minnesota. These pipelines, laid from 1948 to 1972, are owned by Enbridge Energy, the same company that is seeking to build the "Northern Gateway" pipeline from Alberta's tar-sand pits to ports in British Columbia.
Trouble is, Enbridge doesn't seem to have ever procured an easement or any other agreement from Red Lake for their pipelines. So beginning on February 28, Red Lake member Marty Cobenais, a Tar Sands organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, occupied the site with a number of supporters, both Red Lake members and non-Natives. "The pipleines are here illegally," said Cobenais, reached at the site. "We're going to make a stand here, and make them shut down the pipeline."
The lively video below shows the occupiers' first effort--construction of a fence in the frozen ground along the pipeline route, which they hoped would force Enbridge to shut down the flow as a safety precaution. (That has yet to take place.) Enbridge claims to be in negotiations with the tribe on the issue, but no talks have taken place since last August. Cobenais, who calls the encampment a "pinch-point for Enbridge," says the new permanent structures will soon be going up above the pipelines until Enbridge turns off the oil.
PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber