On Jan. 20, newly inaugurated President Biden halted the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. On June 9, TC Energy officially canceled the project. This stand against the oil industry was a joyous moment for environmental advocates across the country, but it represents a victory on just one of many fronts being fought. Despite tireless actions by Indigenous Water Protectors and national pressure through media campaigns and protests, outdated energy corporations continue forcing their dirty oil through the soil. The permit and construction process for Lines 5 and 3 — pipeline expansions through upper Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan by the Canadian energy company Enbridge — are still in the works.
According to Enbridge, the pipelines and oil they transport are essential for providing jobs and powering homes and industry in the Midwest. While it is true that society requires fuel and electricity, it is untrue that the energy must be sourced from crude oil, a significant producer of carbon and contributor to the climate crisis. Some fossil fuels may be necessary for specific industries until sustainable alternatives for non-electric processes are developed but in terms of basic electricity needs, solar, wind, hydropower, and other renewable processes now surpass oil in terms of price per kWh produced and also possess the advantage of continuing to decrease in price with every increase in clean energy investments due to low operating costs and “free” fuel: wind and sun. Resources ought to be invested in energy infrastructure that moves the Midwest towards safe, low-carbon energy sources.
Enbridge also fails to address the ethical and ecological concerns surrounding the pipelines. The proposed Line 5 route runs alongside Copper Falls State Park and near the Bad River Reservation. For the Chippewa, the indigenous inhabitants of northern Wisconsin, Line 5 does not simply threaten a favorite vacation spot, as it does for many Wisconsinites like myself. The proposed pipeline would traverse several watersheds, including hunting, gathering, and cultural grounds, jeopardizing the tribe’s very backyard and sources of livelihood. Since 1968, line 5 has spilled 33 times, a total of over 1.1 million gallons. When, not if, the pipeline spills, the Chippewa people will pay the heaviest price.
Enbridge cannot be allowed to force its polluting, short-sighted pipelines through more Wisconsin soil. Everyone can join the fight to oppose oil pipelines: Call on Governor Evers (608-266-1212), President Biden (202-456-1111), and other officials to stop the construction; sign petitions; finally, donate time or resources to support the collectives fighting to protect our beautiful lakes and rivers, land, and air.