Last week, Carleton students demonstrated against the construction of the Line 3 pipeline by having at least one person continuously present at a couch placed in front of Sayles-Hill Campus Center from Friday, October 19 to Monday, October 22.
The students were part of the Northfield Against Line 3 (NAL3) initiative, a movement to halt the construction of the Line 3 pipeline, which would run through northern Minnesota, according to students involved in the initiative. The pipeline would be built by the Enbridge corporation, and would cut through the state’s treaty lands and other indigenous lands.
Line 3 would also extract tar sand oil, a type of oil that is generally dirtier to handle than regular oil and produces more greenhouse gases during refinement.
“The combination of infringements on… native rights and the environmental impact of the pipeline is why NAL3 believes that such a pipeline should not run through this state and should be scrapped entirely,” said Jack Hardwick, a senior involved in the initiative.
Hardwick has been involved in environmental activism throughout his time at Carleton, including protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
“I see what NAL3 and all other groups working against Line 3 are doing as the next fight to lessen and eventually stop the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels, and as a necessary fight to yet again do our part to prevent breaches of federal treaties protecting the rights and land of indigenous people,” he said.
Hardwick also warned of the danger posed to Northfield if the pipeline were to be constructed. Specifically, he said, as pipelines are prone to spilling, oil would leak into water systems in northern Minnesota and eventually end up in the southern part of the state, potentially leaking into Northfield’s water supply.
According to Hardwick, NAL3 is part of a larger movement.
“This is part of a global fight against climate change,” he said.
Hardwick pointed toward the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which warned that the “ultimate tipping point is dangerously close. It is even more important now than it has been for the last 50 years that we pay attention to climate change and fundamentally alter the ways we live to save our planet,” he said.
The report mainly warns of the impacts of a 1.5° change in global temperature.
“For me personally,” said Oliver Wolyniec ’19, another student involved in the protest, “as someone who grew up in Minnesota and loves its natural beauty, the NAL3 movement is important because it’s fighting against something that’s infringing heavily upon the local natural environment, as well as upon the rights of indigenous peoples.
“The pipeline represents the opposite of what we, collectively, should be striving for: a more sustainable, greener future. I don’t want to see my home state irreparably damaged because of corporate greed.”
The three students involved in the protest in front of Sayles-Hill Campus Center specifically—Edmund Wackerman ’19, Jonathan Elwell ’19 and Oliver Wolyniec—are students in Professor Dev Gupta’s “Comparative Social Movements” class, for which the three were assigned a project: to plan an event or action surrounding an issue they find important. The students were given a choice as to what they wanted to focus on for the project.
“I assign the groups based on similarities of interest among students, and the students themselves must research the issue and find a specific focus within a broader issue area,” Gupta said. “Students think about their issues; think about how to connect their events with possible actions happening locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally; research; reach out to community partners to work with them and set their own goals for their events.”
The three members of the pipeline protest project “were united by our common interest in environmental issues, and because of recent hurricanes in the Southeast,” said Wolyniec.
According to Wolyniec, the group aimed to warn about the dangers of climate change and to make students aware of their privilege living in a place generally isolated from natural disasters.
“It was important for us to communicate that we should be mindful of these things and think more about how we can make positive, meaningful changes in our lives to better reflect a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly global society,” he said.
The NAL3 protest in front of Sayles-Hill Campus Center is not the first demonstration led by the movement. In early October, the group held a protest in front of the house of John Tuma, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioner—a member of the Public Utilities Commission, a board of five members that approves utilities projects like the Line 3 pipeline.
“The commission voted unanimously to approve the pipeline, despite warnings not to from numerous state agencies, an… environmental report of the pipeline and being told that it would … infringe [on] native rights and break treaties, which are federal law,” Hardwick said.
The group held a “funeral for the planet” outside of Tuma’s house. Hardwick expressed resentment of Tuma and his vote to “build an illegal pipeline to the detriment of the Minnesota environment and the planet.”
The group also held a meeting in late October to raise awareness of the group.
In early November, NAL3 plans to train people in the “practice of anti-pipeline direct actions.” Such actions include locking oneself to pipeline equipment and blocking roads.