Traveling from out of state to remote northern Minnesota can be pricey, but organizers of this week’s Line 3 pipeline protest are seeking to sweeten the deal by reimbursing would-be demonstrators for gas.
The online registration for attendees includes a form to request a gas stipend of up to $555 for those traveling by van from outside the Midwest to the Treat People Gathering, a June 5-8 protest aimed at stopping the Line 3 pipeline project in the name of climate change.
“Do you need all or some of your gas costs covered?” says the online form. “We will plan to give average gas stipends based on the distance you’re coming; if that doesn’t seem compatible with your needs or you’re able to cover some of your travel yourself, please select ‘other’ below and indicate how much you need.”
Supporters of Line 3 were quick to weigh in on the optics of fossil-fuel foes tanking up for a pipeline protest.
“So, there are people driving and flying to Minnesota to protest a pipeline and to tell us it’s wrong to use the same fuels they are using to get here?” said Minnesotans for Line 3 on Facebook.
The group cited posts showing that the activists are coming to the White Earth reservation region from far-flung locales such as the Bay Area, New England, the Pacific Northwest and New York.
“Would love to be able to calculate the carbon footprint of protesters using gas to come to Minnesota to protest a pipeline that will actually reduce emissions because it will be more efficient than the current #Line3,” tweeted the pro-Line 3 group, started by the head of United Piping in Duluth.
The protest against the project to replace and update the 337-mile pipeline in Minnesota encouraged attendees to carpool, adding that priority for gas stipends would be for “Indigenous organizers, pipeline fighters in the Midwest, and cars bringing the greatest number of people.”
Added Minnesotans for Line 3 on Friday: “The irony. Hundreds of protesters traveling thousands of miles using gasoline to oppose the #Line3 pipeline. You just can’t make this stuff up.”
More than 50 environmental groups are partnering on the protest, including Swedish climate teen Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for the Future; the Sunrise Movement, and the Chicago branch of the Climate Reality Project, founded by former Vice President Al Gore.
Honor the Earth, a leader of the anti-pipeline protest, said that 2,000 “water protectors” have registered to attend the gathering, which is slated to peak Monday with events and speeches by celebrities including Jane Fonda.
Ms. Fonda said in an Instagram post that she would be joined by fellow actors Rosanna Arquette, Taylor Schilling and Catherine Keener to “stand in solidarity with the water protectors and tell the world that the days of tar sands pipelines are over.”
“We will not stand by and watch a fossil fuel corporation line its pockets as so much is destroyed, producing oil we don’t need. Please join us!” Ms. Fonda said.
Enbridge restarted work last week on the $2 billion project to replace and upgrade the Minnesota segment of the 1,097-mile pipeline, which runs crude oil from Alberta to the petrochemical complex in Superior, Wisconsin.
The Canada-based company said the Minnesota project is 60% complete and should be finished by the end of the year, but opponents have sued to stop construction and urged President Biden to cancel the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit, citing the risk to the climate and environment.
“More than 2000 people are on their way from all across the country to the Treaty People Gathering!” says the protest website. “Help make sure Joe Biden and other decision makers know we’re rising in mass to stand for treaties, clean water, and our shared future.”
Enbridge has called the pipeline an “economic lifeline” to the Great Lakes region, contributing to the manufacture of everything from medical equipment and packaging to transportation fuel, while the project itself has brought thousands of construction jobs to the area.
Mr. Biden canceled the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline immediately after taking office in January, but Enbridge Senior Vice President Mike Fernandez said pulling the corps permit would be “unprecedented.”