A Column In Response: Water protectors just want clean water

Winona LaDuke protest.jpg
Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth speaks to media and a group of protestors while standing on the railroad crossing along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border in southern Carlton County in June, 2018. Bob King /
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An Aug. 1 “Local View” column (“ Pipeline protesters backed by rail interests ”) and a July 7 “National View” column (“ Don't let professional protesters speak for local communities ”) shared similar bent views and convenient twists to a story. We with Honor the Earth are not funded by Warren Buffet, and it turns out the “water protectors” just want clean water.

To be serious, as I was writing this, an Enbridge natural gas pipeline blew up in Kentucky, killing one and displacing many. It was the fourth rupture on an Enbridge natural gas pipeline in less than a year. It’s also the same day that the massive heat wave in Europe, now over Greenland, melted 11 billion tons of ice, sending it into the rising seas.

Get real, guys.

I'm a ricer, a harvester, a grandmother, and a woman who hauls water — literally, as the water at my farm is not drinkable. I value water. Honor the Earth is a national foundation which supports Native people and works on environmental and cultural restoration. We've been around 26 years.

I really don’t want to spend my time fighting Enbridge. I want the company to do the right thing for Minnesota, which is clean up its mess on the old Line 3 before it goes bankrupt and withdraw its new Line 3 proposal. The $2 billion or so it would take to begin cleaning up the old line represents good jobs. And those jobs would be just the beginning of decommissioning aging fossil-fuel infrastructure.


Yes, that's right, I’m worried that Enbridge will go bankrupt — with just one accident. Take the Straits of Mackinac’s 60-year-old pipeline for instance. A disaster there would likely bankrupt the company before it could clean up any spills in Minnesota.

Just look at the history: Union Carbide had the 1984 Bhopal disaster, killing 3,787 and injuring almost 40,000 in a plant explosion in India. The company filed for bankruptcy, and, well, it's still not good in Bhopal. WR Grace brought us the environmental disaster known as Love Canal in Niagara Falls, N.Y., where it made a toxic, lethal mess — and also went bankrupt.

That’s what these companies do. I want Enbridge to clean up its old mess and not make a new one.

As for the Novo Foundation, supported by Peter and Jennifer Buffett, we are grateful for its funding of Honor the Earth’s Young Women's Leadership Program.

Let’s be clear: I don’t work for railroad tycoons, despite what any column might suggest. And I don’t work for corporations. I work for Mother Earth. And we all drink the same water.

Winona LaDuke lives on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. She has written six books on environmental and Native American issues and is executive director of Honor the Earth (, a national Native American environmental foundation.

Winona LaDuke.jpg
Winona LaDuke

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