Letter: Enbridge playing games with the residents of Wisconsin

The last thing we need is another oil pipeline. More than 200 activists, myself included, united on that belief in Whitewater on Saturday to make our voices heard. Concerned with the future of the environment, human health, and social justice, we marched from the UW-Whitewater campus to the shores of Cravath Lake showing strong opposition to the proposal of a new pipeline that would run through Wisconsin, from Superior to Illinois.

This new pipeline (tentatively called Line 66 or the Line 61-Twin) in combination with the existing Line 61 could carry over 2 million barrels of oil through the heart of Wisconsin every day, placing our health and environment at extreme risk and perpetuating our dangerous fossil fuel system.

With the vision of a clean and sustainable future, I joined other students who were marching for our own futures, the futures of generations to come, and the future of our planet. We gathered to promote three simple demands: 1) a public commitment of Enbridge not to construct Line 66 or any new oil infrastructure in Wisconsin, 2) the decommission of Line 5, which runs through the Straits of Mackinac, as soon as possible, and 3) improved pipeline management from Enbridge and eventual decommission of existing pipelines in order to transition to clean energy sources.

The passion, dedication, and energy that came out of Saturday’s event left a significant impact on this fight, and of course triggered a response from Enbridge.

Enbridge continues to say that there are no solidified plans to move forward with the project. They also say that the information activists are using as evidence for the Line 66 plan is “very old” because it first appeared in 2015. They fail to mention that it appeared as recently as the January 2017 Investment Community Presentation, making our evidence for Line 66 as recent as possible.

This January 2017 Investment Presentation is only the most recent clue, but there are many more. Enbridge has worked with legislature to change the eminent domain laws in Wisconsin, something Enbridge would have no interest in doing unless the company planned to use these new laws in the future. Enbridge has also begun surveying property, collecting data, and contacting property owners along the pipeline route in preparation for permitting. Ana Rodriguez, a Jefferson County resident who spoke to the crowd Saturday, said that Enbridge has an 80-foot-wide easement running through her land, but has been surveying an additional 300 feet.
The most obvious proof that Line 66 is coming is Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement and expansion project.  If approved, it would increase the barrels of oil per day heading into Superior, and that oil would need to move south through another pipeline for it to be profitable for Enbridge. A slide in the investment report in question specifically states that the Line 61 project “relieves bottleneck” created by other pipeline expansions.

Despite the abundant and up-to-date evidence that pipeline fighters are using to fuel their resistance, Enbridge continues to claim the project is not moving forward. If that’s the case, then those of us who marched in Whitewater, and many more, will be sure to hold Enbridge to their words. We are ready to fight any action Enbridge takes towards pipeline expansion. The march held on Saturday won’t be the last protest. We will not be silenced. If Enbridge really isn’t building Line 66, then I encourage them to cease all future construction of pipeline infrastructure. Instead, they should invest their money in transitioning to clean energy, including the decommissioning of existing pipelines in Wisconsin. By continuing to pour money into fossil fuel infrastructure, we are only stalling the development of clean energy and transportation technology. A healthy planet on which future generations can sustain life is simply impossible if we continue this fossil fuel habit. A transition to clean energy is vital.

Enbridge is playing games with the residents of Wisconsin, landowners concerned about their homes, and families and students, like me, who are concerned about our future. But this isn’t a game; this is our future, our water, and our livelihoods. Enbridge needs to publicly and formally state they will never build this pipeline and cancel the Line 3 project that creates the “need” for this pipeline in the first place. If they won’t do that, we will continue to make our voices and concerns heard like we did on Saturday.

- Hannah Nowakowski, member of Wisconsin Youth Network, Madison

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