American Indians promise Enbridge pipeline fightST. PAUL – Some American Indians have threatened to stop efforts to build a pair of northern Minnesota oil pipelines.
By: Don Davis , Forum Communications
ST. PAUL – Some American Indians have threatened to stop efforts to build a pair of northern Minnesota oil pipelines.
Activist Clyde Bellecourt on Wednesday said Indian pipeline opponents “definitely” will attempt to block construction any way they can.
“We have our rights ...” said Bellecourt, an American Indian Movement founder, “particularly when it is going to pollute our land.”
Environmentalists’ and Indian efforts to derail the pipeline project have failed to stop construction so far as Minnesota utility regulators and the courts have rejected their claims. The state Public Utilities Commission last week gave its final approval for Enbridge Energy to go ahead with the pipeline project.
Enbridge’s Denise Hamsher said construction will begin this summer, with oil expected to flow in slightly more than a year.
The pipelines are scheduled to be built within feet of existing Enbridge pipes from northwestern Minnesota to Superior.
The 285-mile-long pipelines will cross Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk, Clearwater, Beltrami, Hubbard, Cass, Itasca, Aitkin, St. Louis and Carlton counties.
A 36-inch pipe is to carry oil from a tar-sands site in northern Alberta, Canada. A 20-inch pipe is planned to return an oil thinner material to Canada for reuse.
The Minnesota pipeline is part of a project to carry oil to Chicago.
The Twin Cities-based Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Bemidji-based Indigenous Environmental Network brought well-known Indian activists Bellecourt and Winona LaDuke to a state Capitol news conference to protest the pipelines.
LaDuke, a one-time Green Party vice presidential candidate, said tar-sands oil produces too much pollution.
The environmentalist from western Minnesota’s White Earth Indian Reservation also said Minnesota should reject any pipeline crossing the state.
Bellecourt was more aggressive, promising attempts to block pipeline construction across reservation land.
The pipelines would cross two Minnesota reservations — Leech Lake and Fond du Lac.