Keep It Rural

By Bryce Oates – Tuesday, June 8, 2021


On Pipelines, Water and the People Who Stand Up Against Big Fossil Fuel

I remember the first time I heard about the Canadian company, Enbridge, and its plans to ship highly toxic diluted bitumen crude through its pipelines from the Alberta tar sands to somewhere in the refining belt of the Oklahoma/Texas region. From there, the tar sands oil could be refined and “sold on the global market.” It was 2013, and Enbridge was quietly and stealthily staging giant stacks of pipe and materials all along the proposed route (even before they had obtained their permits) throughout rural West Missouri.

I was living and farming there at the time on the place where I grew up, and became very concerned about the potential risk of pipeline spills, particularly as the Enbridge pipeline ran a mile or so upriver from my town and rural water district’s intake pipe. Some other locals and I got together and tried to organize so that Enbridge would at least have to take some precautionary measures in the event of a spill near the river, but we were too late and too powerless. Enbridge had already convinced local public officials that “pipelines don’t spill,” even as we presented evidence of Enbridge spills in Michigan and Arkansas. Enbridge got the permit, and they had that pipeline laid and operational in a few short weeks.

Fast forward to present day, and Enbridge is at it again, seeking to build pipelines as alternative routes to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline, where there has been stiff opposition. One of their proposed routes is “Line 3” which is being built through Northern Minnesota. The region of lakes, wetlands and woods has many locals—led by various Anishinaabe peoples and nations—who are standing up to the Canadian fossil fuel giant.

The “Water Protectors” in Northern Minnesota have been working to oppose Enbridge Line 3 for seven years. They say that:

“Tribal nations, community and environmental groups in Minnesota have fought for six years to stop Canadian oil giant Enbridge Energy from building the massive Line 3 pipeline in Northern Minnesota, to take oil from Canada’s tar sands region to Superior, Wis. The pipeline violates several treaties with the Ojibwe people that establish their right to hunt, fish, and gather along the proposed route. The pipeline would cross 200 bodies of water, including the Mississippi River twice.”

“If built, Line 3 would carry hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of tar sands crude oil—some of the dirtiest oil in the world—and would contribute the equivalent of 50 coal plants worth of carbon pollution to the atmosphere. Its carbon footprint would exceed the entire state of Minnesota’s and, like Keystone XL, would extend the economic viability of the ultra-polluting crude oil source in a way that one expert famously called ‘game over for the climate.’”

So keep your eyes and ears open, Keep It Rural readers, for news and information about the direct action efforts to challenge Enbridge’s pipeline efforts through rural Minnesota. It’s the most recent example of the “odd bedfellows” coalitions that come together during environmental justice fights. Native Americans. Environmentalists. Private property rights advocates. Anti-corruption advocates. Climate Activists. Stay tuned.


Rural Reading List

On this week’s list, we’ve got questions about federal support for Appalachia, new approaches to nonprofit news in rural, a climate bill supported by Big Ag and a water controversy ratcheting up in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Biden Vows to Support Struggling Appalachian Counties. But Residents Are Weary of Failed Promises.

Extractive industries being responsible for local government budgets is a boom and bust proposition. This story explores potential federal support for stepping in to fill the void of a collapsing regional coal industry.

Radically Rural: Rural News Sees Renaissance Born Out of Necessity

Rural readers know that most small town newspapers are having a tough time making it these days, if they remain operational and up-and-running at all. This Daily Yonder story documents some potential models for how to make sure rural news reporting has a future.

The Climate Bill Even Big Ag Loves

Tom Philpott explains some real concerns about the Growing Climate Solutions Act, including its list of supporters (many of whom are also major climate polluters).

The West Can End the Water Wars Now

This commentary explores some potential solutions to the megadrought and water shortage happening in the Klamath basin, which could explode with rightwing vigilante-ism this summer.


One More Thing: No Dollar in the Holler

Upon arriving in Transylvania County in Western North Carolina, I started to see these yard signs around reading “No Dollar in the Holler.” The signs refer to the recent boom in building of Dollar General stores in the region. Heck, there’s two Dollar Generals along the lightly populated road from my place to town (that’s Brevard, NC). It’s the only chain store of any sort in the area, actually, so I certainly understand the sentiment.

Turns out there’s a catchy little song that the local Dollar General opposition cooked up I’d like to share with you. Protest music, more or less, trying to protect the rustic rural character of this mountain rainforest region.

Have a listen here.

Okay, okay. A lot of NIMBY(not in my back yard)ism from me today. But I suppose that says something about where my head is at when it comes to development, “progress,” corporate power and related topics.


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