Global petro-resistance greets 2021

Native American activist Winona LaDuke and a small group of opponents of the planned Line 3 oil pipeline project braved frigid winds Dec. 15 to demonstrate outside the Enbridge Energy office in Park Rapids, Minn. LaDuke and her self-proclaimed "water protectors" carried signs reading "Mother Earth Revolution," "We are here for the future," and "Protect climate, water, treaties." The planned pipeline would bring more shale oil from northern Canada to US markets. Local Ojibwe bands in Minnesota have brought legal challenge against the pipeline, asserting that the potential for oil spills from the line poses a risk to their treaty-guaranteed hunting, fishing and gathering rights.

Said LaDuke: "We're here because the Enbridge Corporation started construction on a pipeline in the middle of a pandemic, bringing 4,200 workers into northern Minnesota during that pandemic, and [is] running kind of roughshod across the country. We'd like our day in court, and we'd like the governor to not arrest water protectors." She said they plan the demonstrations to be continue weekly—despite the fact that 22 pipeline protesters were arrested the previous day in Aitkin County. (Duluth News Tribune)

Ohio meanwhile became the latest state to pass a law criminalizing anti-pipeline protests. Such protesters in the Buckeye State may now face a third-degree felony charge, which carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to three years in prison. (WOSU)

Activists worldwide are promising to press thier challenges to fossil fuel exploitation in the coming year. While Denmark has pledged to end North Sea oil exploitation by 2050 as a step toward meeting the Paris cimate accord goals, other Scandinavian governments remain intransigent. The Supreme Court of Norway, in a Dec. 22 decision, upheld a judgment of the Borgarting Court of Appeals, which had allowed the government to grant oil licenses in new sections of the country's continental shelf. The case concerned the validity of a 2016 administrative decision approving licenses for new regions in the Norwegian continental shelf. The decision was challenged by environmental groups including Greenpeace and Nature & Youth Norway, who claimed that the approval violated Norway's Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. (Jurist)

The Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) on Dec. 21 launched a legal challenge against the Western Australia state government's approval of the new Burrup Hub liquified natural gas (LNG) facility. The CCWA is challenging Woodside Petroleum's planned expansion on the grounds that it was not given proper environmental assessment prior to approval. In a press release, the group describes the development as the "most polluting fossil fuel project ever to be proposed in Australia," which "undermines global efforts [to mitigate climate change] under the Paris Agreement."

Lawyers for the CCWA allege that the project's approval last year contravened Western Australia's Environmental Protection Act (EPA). Woodside originally gained approval to source gas from two sites on the remote Burrup Peninsula; however, it later amended its plans, adding two additional gas-fields. The EPA requires that changes to approved projects which entail a "significant detrimental effect on the environment" be subject to full environmental assessment. But the alteration was considered a minor change by Woodside and the West Australian government, and a separate environmental assessment was therefore not undertaken. The CCWA claims that this was a major change and should have been subject to full environmental appraisal. (Jurist)

Clash at Minnesota pipeline spill site leads to charges

At least two people were taken into custody March 3 and officers issued citations to others protesting at the site of the Line 3 spill at LaPrairie, a small town in Itasca County near Grand Rapids in northern Minnesota. According to Giniw Collective, a camp that has served as a center for some of the water protectors, more than 70 people were issued citations. The group had gathered to mark the anniversary of the March 3, 1991 spill, which dumped 1.7 million gallons of oil onto the Prairie River, according to activist Winona LaDuke. (ICT)

180 arrested at Line 3 pipeline protest

The Sheriff's Office in Hubbard County, Minn., says nearly 180 protesters were arrested on June 7, noting that they caused an "extensive amount of damage" to Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline equipment. The National Lawyers Guild charges multi-jurisdictional police forces at the scene with "shameful tactics."  A Homeland Security Department helicopter intentionally flew at dangerously low levels above water protectors, engulfing them in clouds of dust and debris. Later, police used a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), a military-grade speaker, to issue dispersal orders. (KSTP-TV, Hubbard County, NLG)