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Oct 29, 21

This Is America #151: The Fight Against Line 5, Brenton Lengel on New Durruti Comic Book

Welcome, to This Is America, October 29th, 2021.

On today’s episode, we speak with several Water Protectors involved in the ongoing struggle against the Line 5 pipeline. We discuss the history of the fight against the Embridge project, how the company has worked with the police to attack grassroots organizing, a recent action which shut down oil production, and much more.

Here is their communique from a recent action on October 19th which shut down oil flow on Line 5:

Mni Wiconi. Water is life. We are here to protect the water, land, and air that support all life, including our own. Line 5 poses an immediate threat to our lives and these actions are taken out of necessity and in self-defense.

The sacredness of mother earth is understood in indigenous communities. For generations, water protectors across Turtle Island and the world have led the fight to ensure a livable planet for future generations. Tribes in Bad River and Bay Mills have both taken legal action against Enbridge who continues to illegally operate line 5 on sovereign land.

The urgent need to protect mother earth’s natural resources is recognized in settler colonial society as well. Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel acted as true public servants by filing case number 19-474-CE revoking the 1953 easement that allows Enbridge to operate line 5 under the straits of Mackinaw. I quote Attorney General Nessel, “Simply put, Michigan law requires that the pipelines be shut down.”

Line 5 is a 68-year pipeline with a planned lifetime of 50 years and Enbridge violates the public trust every second that Line 5 continues to operate. Enbridge repeatedly and knowingly violated the terms of the 1953 Easement and failed to correct structural shortcomings in the Line 5 pipeline. Furthermore, Line 5 has already spilled 33 different times totaling over 1.1 million gallons of oil and it is only sheer luck that the multiple anchor-strikes in recent years have not led to a spill in the straits.

A broader look at the history of Enbridge reveals the extremely high likelihood of a massive imminent spill. Consider this: Enbridge is responsible for the two largest inland oil spills in history. Spilling 1.7 million gallons in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and more recently spilling 1.2 million gallons in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is still being cleaned up to this day. Enbridge repeatedly dismissed alarms for over 17 hours during the Kalamazoo spill, instead opting to increase the pressure in the pipeline multiple times up until the public discovered and reported the spill.

Additionally, Enbridge is responsible for digging deeper than permitted and breaching a groundwater aquifer in Minnesota this January resulting in 24 million gallons of groundwater leakage. Although aware of the breach they failed to report it and it was only discovered by an independent investigation by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in June, six months later.

This list is incomplete but should make clear that Enbridge holds no respect for the sacredness of human life, the rule of law, or mother earth. The environmental impacts listed above overlook the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels and the tragic consequences of climate change that result from this suicidal industry. This characterization is not a metaphor, the impact of Enbridge and other capitalist fossil fuel titans threaten the viability of all human life on earth.

I know my life is in danger because of the risk of a spill and because of the contributions of Enbridge to climate change. In Detroit we saw record flooding leave cars strewn across the city and upend lives, elsewhere people have died in wildfires and hurricanes, or from starvation as unpredictable weather patterns destroy food production.

Shutting down oil pipelines and overcoming our addiction to fossil fuels is an imperative first step in addressing the threat of climate change and ecological collapse. Restoring healthy balance and harmony among life on earth is the responsibility of all people and will require a radical restructuring of our society. This fight for our future is not just in our psyches but in the material conditions that surround us, any reasonable person can see the threats, it’s time we start acting to protect ourselves and each other.

Enbridge has no legal right to operate this pipeline and the continued operation of Line 5 is an imminent threat to my life, and the lives of an untold number of other people and living beings. All other routes have been exhausted, Enbridge has been operating the pipeline illegally since May 12th and direct action must be taken to enforce the governor’s order and begin healing the mother earth.

We then switch gears and speak with Brenton Lengel, a playwright and comic book creator, who is currently working on a new series centered around the Spanish anarchist revolutionary, Buenaventura Durruti, who took part in the Spanish Revolution of 1936. Check out the project here.

We then move to our discussion, where we dissect and analyze the news.

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