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Anti-pipeline, clean water demonstrators converge in downtown Green Bay

Regional environmental groups joined in a national day of action against the controversial Line 3 pipeline on Tuesday, Dec. 14

By John McCracken

Protestors at a Tuesday, Dec. 14 demonstration in downtown Green Bay gathered outside the Green Bay U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office to combat the construction and development of the Line 3 pipeline. John McCracken photo

As afternoon traffic and heavy-duty industrial vehicles went up and down Broadway, a group of demonstrators sang and chanted outside of Old Fort Square, demanding an end to crude oil pipelines.

The demonstration, which brought over two dozen participants, was part of a National Day of Action held on Tuesday, Dec. 14 to stop Line 3, a crude oil pipeline owned by Canadian corporation Enbridge that transports oil across Canada, Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

Sunrise Fox Valley organizer Grace Quinn told the crowd she has witnessed firsthand the way oil spills change landscapes and pollute water. Quinn said she camped out at the Line 3 construction site in Minnesota for a month this past summer. Apart from the beautiful natural scenery she enjoyed camping near the Missippi River, Quinn said it was hard to witness the construction of the pipeline.

“The ecological damage they have done is irreversible,” Quinn told the crowd. “It will never be the same.”

The Line 3 pipeline has garnered condemnation from environmental activists across the United States and Midwest. Enbridge, who operates the 68-year old pipeline, was responsible for a colossal oil spill in 2010, which dumped 882,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. In December 2020, the pipeline’s construction began after six years of governmental review litigation from environmentalists and Tribal Nations impacted by Line 3.

“Fossil fuels are not our future,” Quinn told the crowd. “We need to divest now.”

Peshtigo resident Mary Hansen spoke at the demonstration. Hansen is a part of an ongoing effort in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan to stop the construction of a sulfide mine along the Menomonee River. She said she sees actions against Line 3 connected to the initiative opposing the Back Forty Mine in Michigan as connected in a fight against ongoing water pollution across the state and country.

“We don’t have another place to go get water,” Hansen said. “There’s no alternative. Once it’s ruined, it’s done.”

Hansen said the construction of the Line 3 pipeline is bad for everyone, regardless of their proximity to the physical pipeline or its construction.

A protestor holds a sign that reads “Stand for what you stand on” in downtown Green Bay. Gathered individuals spoke about the need for regional collaboration on environmental issues at the Tuesday, Dec. 14 event. John McCracken photo

“We have a battle going up there,” Hansen told Green Bay City Pages, “and we’ve gone around to cities all around the Menominee River and had them pass resolutions. We spoke up at many city hall meetings and city council meetings. We have resolution signed all the way around the Menominee River and all we can do is keep speaking and hoping that our voice gets somewhere out where people are going to hear our fight and our battle.”

This past October, the Green Bay City Council reviewed a resolution, brought forth by downtown alder Randy Scannell, to denounce the building of Line 3 and Line 5. At the October meeting, Scannell said he brought forth the item because it will affect Green Bay due to the pipelines’ proximity to the Straits of Mackinac and in turn, the Great Lakes.

The resolution failed with Scannell as the sole yes vote.

Green Bay resident Justice Peche spoke in support of the resolution at the October meeting and was present at the Tuesday, Dec. 14 demonstration. He said the city should be familiar with polluted waters given the Fox River’s history of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) pollution.

“Green Bay definitely knows what it’s like to have compromised waters,” Peche said.

Peche said the failed resolution and Tuesday’s demonstration are all a part of bringing awareness to the issue across the state and at the local level.

“It’s basically Green Bay stating its values,” Penchse said, “that we respect treaty rights and want to see them respected. We want to maintain clean water as a city that lies on the water.”

John McCracken is the Editor of Green Bay City Pages. You can reach him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @jmcjmc451.

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