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Lobe: Pipeline project threatens environment, Fort Collins involvement crucial

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.  

Pipeline projects, like the Dakota Access Pipeline, greatly threaten climate change, Native American livelihood, treaty rights, and Northern America’s pristine watersheds and ecosystems. Because of the impact this pipeline has on climate change, I urge the Fort Collins community to get involved. 


Last week, I returned to Fort Collins after spending time in Northern Minnesota, more specifically White Earth Reservation. I was part of a community that worked together to create a sustainable, indigenous-taught camp called Turtle Island. It is a self-described water protector camp. Our goal is to be dedicated to values of self-sustainable living, along with restoring cultural knowledge of the indigenous people of that region, who are the Anishinaabe. This specific camp is growing every day, and my time spent there was so profound, enlightening, and productive, that I plan to return there after this semester. Whether it was tending to the garden, building traditional wigwam housing structures that can keep you warm throughout winter, or learning about the wild rice harvesting that is prominent in this part of America. Each day there promised an immense amount of connection with Mother Earth and its inhabitants.[new_royalslider id=”630″] 

The community at Camp Turtle Island is remanence of the camps at Standing Rock, but on a smaller scale which means a tighter community with clearer goals. Not only is this group of people working together day and night to create what they believe a better world for all, but everyone there also shares a common dedication; stopping a pipeline. Currently, there are multiple different resistance camps set up across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada. For me, Turtle Island is home. This resistance is a part of something much more than stopping a single pipeline, this is a movement to protect our planet, our mother, and everything that is living here. After the federal government and its multiple agencies raided the camps at Standing Rock, they thought it was over. Instead, we spread out across the vast plains and dense forests like stars in the sky. The fight is far from over, and this movement will last forever. At a time when wildfires are raging across the West, our fourth largest city is underwater and now contaminated, and a violent storm is headed to Florida, the time to act is now. The urgency that is climate change is already hitting home, and ditching fossil fuels could be the quick change we need. 

A bulldozer working on pipeline 3.
A water protector locked down to heavy equipment at site of Line 3 – Wisconsin

The pipeline at hand is Enbridge’s Line 3. For most of August, I worked closely with members of the Ojibwe tribe and what I learned from them will last me a lifetime. How to carry myself as an individual and leave less of a footprint, how to work together with the community, along with learning traditional Ojibwe practices that I hope to carry on for generations to come. Through all of this, one thing became very clear, this pipeline will cause devastation. Bill Paulson, the property owner and leader of Camp Turtle Island, hosts a wild rice camp on his property, where an abundance of rice grows around a beautiful lake. On September 1, the wild rice season official started, and Turtle Island hosted the community for an annual feast. Bill took me to Mud Lake, which is about 30 minutes from camp and is notorious for its vast amounts of Wild Rice. Enbridge plans to place Line 3 under this lake, which will not only threaten the water, but systematically destroy the rice growing in bountifulness.

I was on site of the current construction happening in Superior, Wisconsin, and what I saw stunned me.

 It starts in Alberta, Canada, cuts through Minnesota, and ends in Wisconsin. This project is Enbridge’s largest and most expensive to date, and will carry tar sands across North America, and eventually exported out of the country. The impact that tar sand extraction and refinery has on climate change is significantly larger than that of regular crude oil.

“Oil sands crude is significantly more [greenhouse gas] intensive than other crudes, and therefore has potentially large impacts,” wrote EPA’s Cynthia Giles about the State Department’s attempts to assess the full implications of Keystone, “lifecycle emissions from oil sands crude could be 81 percent greater than the average crude refined in the U.S.,” a difference that can grow “depending on the assumptions made,” ( It’s important to note that this finding was that of the Keystone XL pipeline, which involves the same tar sands extraction as Line 3, but Line 3 will carry 915,000 barrels per day, compared to Keystone’s 830,000 barrels per day. 

It is a replacement pipeline of the original line 3, which is quite literally falling apart, but still in operation. The ‘Stop Line 3’ website states,  “It was built with defective steel in l96l, and has had numerous ruptures and continues to degrade. Instead of cleaning up this liability, Enbridge is proposing to leave it in the ground and build a $7.5 billion brand new corridor through our watershed and Ojibwe treaty territories” 

They are leaving the current, leaking pipeline in the ground and creating a whole new spot perpendicular to the current pipe. From Enbridge’s official website, they stated the following about the new Line 3 project, “In the U.S., the replacement pipeline will follow Enbridge’s existing Line 3 route from Joliette, North Dakota to Clearbrook, Minnesota, and then will primarily follow existing pipeline and transmission routes from Clearbrook to Superior, Wisconsin.”

What their description doesn’t mention is that once the pipeline reaches Minnesota, it takes on a completely different route. Minnesota would be host to 337 miles of the pipeline, compared to only 14 miles in Wisconsin. Another thing, they don’t yet have the permits for Minnesota. The final review process for the permits is supposed to take place in April of 2018, yet Enbridge is already preparing by moving pipes around in Minnesota and working in Wisconsin, just feet away from the Minnesota boarder.


“The pipelines threaten the culture, way of life, and physical survival of the Ojibwe people. Where there is wild rice, there are Anishinaabeg, and where there are Anishinaabeg, there is wild rice. It is our sacred food. Without it we will die. It’s that simple.” (Honor the Earth) On top of the threat of losing their livelihood from this pipeline, the new route also is an attack on two separate treaties established in the 19th century. The 1837 White Pine Treaty was established in part to protect the livelihood of the Ojibwe tribe for generations to come. “Article 5 granted the signatory Ojibwe bands usufructuary rights to hunt, fish and gather within the ceded territory. An Ojibwe chief from Leech Lake known as Eshkibagikoonzhe (Flat Mouth) demanded that his people retain the right to “get their living from the lakes and rivers” because “we cannot live, deprived of our lakes and rivers.” The proposed route will go right through ceded treaty territory. 

There are many ways to get involved with this movement, whether it be at home, or physically involved with the camps and future direct actions. To be a “water protector” can mean many things, and if you were ever interested in defending our planet, now is a perfect time to jump right in. The future needs you.

If you would like to help Camp Turtle Island directly, check out their Facebook page: Camp Turtle Island-MikinaakMinis Genawendang Nibi Endazh

Consider donating to them, but also stay up to date with what is happening there. Facebook is a good place to start, as many people on the ground there provide updates daily.

Opinion columnist Cullen Lobe can be reached at 

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