BAGLEY, Minn. — As the debate over the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project continues to play out across Minnesota, a group of environmental and tribal agencies hosted an “education summit” to speak about the issues at play.
They held the event Wednesday, June 26, at the Bagley American Legion. Throughout the day, representatives from the various organizations spoke about a number of issues, such as treaties and how they affect wild rice collection and environmental impacts from pipeline construction.
Organizers billed the event as an opportunity to discuss and address issues such as climate change and “community tensions.” They also said the goal was to create “working groups to foster understanding and enact solutions.”
“We just kind of wanted to keep it small and keep it like a roundtable rather than have a big, huge (event),” said Dawn Goodwin of the 1855 Treaty Authority and the RISE Coalition. She went on to say that they didn’t want the event to be a debate with Enbridge officials or pro-Line 3 supporters.
Roughly 25 people attended the meeting, including Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson. He described it as an opportunity to learn and said that it’s always good to hear both sides to a story.
Tribal attorney Frank Bibeau spoke about some of the treaties between the government and Ojibwe tribes in the state and how they factor into the environmental conversation today.
In addition to the treaties, several other speakers addressed issues and topics related to the Native community, such as historical trauma and a brief history about how the Ojibwe people first came to the Minnesota region.
Andy Pearson with the organization Minnesota 350 spoke about the environmental impact of the oil pipelines. He also spoke of how much of the oil from the pipeline isn’t even staying in the country but that it’s rather being exported overseas.
Pearson then spoke about some of the potential alternatives to the use of oil. He said Minnesota is already helping to lead the way as 25% of the state’s electricity is generated from renewable sources.
“Getting off of oil is a huge task,” Pearson said. “The way we look at is we’d have to be using less energy, electrifying as much as we can, and making electricity renewable. And, we’re on our way, in so many ways, to a lot of those solutions already.”
The Line 3 replacement project recently faced a setback after state officials indicated the environmental review of the project was not adequate. Officials from the company, as well as various state agencies involved in the process, are reportedly working to update the project’s timetable.