Winona LaDuke to Enbridge: invest in clean energy, not the Sandpiper pipeline

Enbridge, Sandpiper, Minnesota, White Earth Band
Protesters demonstrate against Enbridge's Sandpiper pipeline. Source: Twitter

As First Nations launch lawsuits against Enbridge's Northern Gateway in Canada, Indigenous opposition is building against a $2 billion pipeline in the U.S.

Winona LaDuke, an activist, environmentalist and member of the White Earth Band in northwest Minnesota, says her band is up in arms against Enbridge's Sandpiper pipeline, which would bisect the reservation.

“We're pretty sure they're going to get oil in our water and in our wild rice. The pipeline does not benefit us,” LaDuke told The Vancouver Observer. “We have all the risk and they make all the money.”

LaDuke said Enbridge's pipeline could risk invaluable watersheds located inside their reservation. 

Calgary-based Enbridge is proposing to build a 24-inch pipeline that would cross northern Minnesota carrying 225,000 barrels of oil per day from Enbridge's facility in Beaver Lodge, North Dakota to a storage hub located in Superior, Wisconsin.

In addition to the disruption of the watersheds, LaDuke is also worried about Enbridge’s history of spills.

According to a report by the Polaris Institute, between 1999 and 2010 there were 804 spills that released 161,475 barrels of hydrocarbons into the environment across all of the company’s operations.

Enbridge is also responsible for the largest inland oil spill in the history of the United States.

In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured and spilled 3.3 million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Thirty five miles of the river had to be closed for almost two years for clean-up.

“I can drink the water out of the lake, I can feed my family from the fish, I can get maple sugar from a tree and I can get rice from a lake or a river,” said LaDuke. “Why would I want and oil pipeline here?”

According to LaDuke, the White Earth Band has not been sufficiently consulted about the project.

So what are alternatives to an oil pipeline?

LaDuke said Enbridge should propose renewable energy projects for Minnesota instead of continuing to focusing on fossil fuels. In 2009, the company committed to generate a kilowatt of renewable energy for every kilowatt its operations consume.

“We would like Enbridge a lot more of if they would use their renewable energy portfolio in Minnesota and not their fossil fuels portfolio,” LaDuke said.

“Pipelines are about greed, not our future.”

Winona LaDuke TedX Talk in video below

See video

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