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Minnesota’s Line 3 pipeline protests get results

By Andrew Josefchak |
August 25, 2020
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St. Paul, MN - The Climate Justice Committee organized an action to protest Joe Biden’s climate proposal on August 18, as Committee members and climate activists gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion here, demanding Governor Walz re-file the state’s appeal of the decision to allow the Line 3 oil pipeline to be rebuilt and expanded. The new pipeline would be an environmental disaster and violates federal agreements with indigenous governments.

Both the Climate Justice Committee and members of the Giniw Collective, an indigenous-led group that protested outside the mansion earlier in the day, held the street and chanted slogans like “Climate change has got to go!” Police confronted the crowd and demanded that they stay out of the street, threatening to arrest anyone who would not step back over the curb. The scene escalated briefly, but protesters decided to clear the roadway in order to continue the action.

Activists with the Climate Justice Committee, the University of Minnesota Climate Strike, and University of Minnesota Students for a Democratic Society delivered speeches. A central point touched on by all speakers was the Democratic Party’s unwillingness to promise meaningful change. UMN Climate Strike speakers noted that Joe Biden’s plan to get the United States off of fossil fuels by 2050 is too little, far too late, as climate experts have pointed to 2030 as the deadline for serious changes to be made.

CJ McCormick, speaking for the Climate Justice Committee, spoke about the power of direct action, saying, “The green movement in the U.S. once pressured Richard Nixon, an avidly anti-activist conservative, to authorize the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.” McCormick went on to ask, “If we can pressure someone like Nixon to make concessions for the earth, then why is it proving so hard to get the Democratic Party - who claim to care about the planet - to stop posturing and actually defend it?”

Celia Nimz, a member of UMN Students for a Democratic Society, spoke about the inability of a capitalist country to effectively address climate change, stating that “green capitalism still means violent imperialism abroad.” Lithium is a key ingredient of the batteries used to power electric motors, and much of the world’s lithium mining takes place in Bolivia. Elon Musk, the CEO of the electric car company Tesla Motors, recently said outright that “We [the U.S. government and capitalists] will coup whoever we want! Deal with it,” when referring to the recent violent removal of Evo Morales, the leftist president of Bolivia.

A few hours after the Climate Justice Committee’s protest ended, Governor Walz’s office put out a press release announcing that he would be re-filing the appeal and thus delaying or even ending the ecologically disastrous Line 3 project. This reinforces a point made by Celine Jennings from the UMN Climate Strike, that we are “way more powerful than we believe.”

When we take to the streets to fight back, anything is possible.

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