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Dec 28

A Kalamazoo Resident’s Week-long Environmental Justice Fast against Enbridge

One of the MI CATS has recently begun a 7-day fast as a personal protest against Enbridge and in support of opposition to Enbridge. Here’s a statement this CAT wrote below:

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At 12am on December 25, precisely one week before the end of 2014, I began a week-long “environmental justice fast”. This fast is a personal, spiritual act of opposition to Enbridge and Enbridge’s tar sands tyranny. I was inspired to do this fast a few months ago as a result of casual internet research, looking to discover previous acts of opposition to Enbridge… I came across articles detailing a similar fast (check out this and this) done by Mia Nissen during the last 7 days of the previous year in opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline. I thought that was pretty cool and honorable, and decided pretty much then and there that I’d do the same thing this year.

In the middle of a week-long environmental justice fast... because Enbridge sucks.

In the middle of a week-long environmental justice fast… because Enbridge sucks.

For this fast I’m consuming nothing but water. I am not concerned for my health or the safety of the fast because I’ve fasted a few times before. My aim is to pray and just spiritually go through this, and try to maintain a presence of an hour a day in front of a Morgan Stanley building in Kalamazoo (Morgan Stanley is an investor in Enbridge) holding signs about the 2010 Kalamazoo disaster to raise local awareness.

Why I’m Doing This

I’m doing this fast for multiple reasons related to my disdain for Enbridge. For one, I’m pissed off at both Enbridge and the Michigan judicial system for branding Lisa, Barbara, Vicci, and now Chris as felons for allegedly refusing to cooperate with cops while blockading construction on Enbridge’s 6B. These four individuals (and many others) should be thanked for their sacrifices for our future generations, not punished by the state! But alas, Lisa, Barbara and Vicci were sentenced to a year of probation and a month in jail for peacefully resisting Enbridge, and Chris Wahmhoff is slated to be sentenced for his “crime” tomorrow at the Battle Creek Courthouse. I hope you can join Chris and the rest of the MI CATS there! Click here for details on our gathering this Monday at noon.

While Mia aimed to draw attention with her fast to the Northern Gateway pipeline system, my fast isn’t against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline system specifically. As a resident of Kalamazoo, Michigan, familiar with the devastation wreaked by Enbridge’s cruel negligence both with the rupture of tar sands line 6B and with the subsequent cover-up scandal, I’m opposed to Enbridge’s operations generally, because I don’t trust them. Enbridge has been caught with numerous lies over the years, and has been voraciously expanding its tar sands infrastructure across the continent these past few years. I can think of 11 pipelines right off the bat that Enbridge has that are proposed or already completed:

  1. Line 3: Enbridge plans to double the capacity of this line so that by 2017 it will carry 760,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day. No presidential approval is required for this pipeline since it’s already there… which is one reason why the mainstream environmental movement may not be paying it much attention, even though it’s comparable to the size of the proposed Keystone XL.
  2. Line 4: this pipeline spilled over 1,300 barrels of “oil” just days ago, leading to its forced shutdown (woot woot!)
  3. Line 5: this 61-year-old pipeline, which leaked at Crystal Falls, MI in 1999, as well as had a “pinhole leak” just weeks ago, passes through the Straits of Mackinac, threatening the Great Lakes, which comprise 20% of the world’s freshwater supply. Read more about line 5 here: 5 spooky facts about Enbridge’s Mackinac Pipeline
  4. Line 6B: this pipeline was the infamous one that ruptured in 2010, leading to the largest inland tar sands spill in US history, devastating the communities and environment of Marshall, Battle Creek, and Kalamazoo. Courageous members of MICATS have repeatedly put their bodies on the line these past few years to blockade the expansion of this pipeline. MICATS has organized multiple treesits, lockdowns, and pipe occupations to stop this pipe. Sadly, four of the MICATS have been convicted of felonies for their actions, one who’s actually going to be sentenced tomorrow for skateboarding into line 6B back in 2013. Check out this very site to learn more about all that MICATS has done to try to stop this pipeline. As of now, the expanded pipeline is in operation.
  5. Line 9: this pipeline has faced serial opposition all throughout its route. Multiple blockades have occurred this past summer to obstruct maintenance/expansion operations at Line 9 sites, and recently, in opposition to Line 9, activists in 9 different cities in Ontario locked the entrances of the offices of Enbridge and other institutions that support them, saying they’re “closed for risky business”.
  6. Flanagan South: sadly, despite real opposition that existed to this 600-mile tar sands pipeline, this pipeline was recently announced to be complete and in operation.
  7. Seaway: this pipeline runs through Texas following a similar route to the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, jointly owned by Enbridge and Enterprise. Despite some opposition to the pipeline, I believe its expansion is complete.
  8. Sandpiper: this proposed 612-mile oil pipeline would run from North Dakota to Wisconsin. Public hearings in Minnesota are set for it on the first week of January 2015.
  9. Line 61: Enbridge is trying to get away with tripling the capacity of this pipeline, so that it would carry more tar sands per day than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and is also trying to get away with having adequate insurance if and when it leaks: read more at http://www.isthmus.com/daily/article.php?article=44212.
  10. Alberta Clipper (Line 67): this pipeline is going forward in a rather dirty, dubious way… the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved this pipeline’s expansion, and to avoid having to seek presidential approval, the Alberta Clipper is being linked to Line 3 right at the US-Canada border.
  11. Northern Gateway: this pipeline has faced years of fierce opposition, though it seems it is going forward: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/conservative-mps-from-bc-mixed-over-northern-gateway-blessing/article19219669/

Apologies for any significant Enbridge pipeline or other projects that I missed, these were just the ones that came to mind.

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I’m intimidated by what can only fairly be described as Enbridge’s tar sands tyranny. At a time of a clear looming threat from climate change, Enbridge seems to me to be one of the companies most desperately involved in getting as much of the world’s most toxic and carbon-intensive fossil fuel out to the world market. They haven’t learned their lessons from the line 6B disaster (except the do’s and don’ts of public relations, I guess), and they’re expanding their tar sands pipelines all across the continent. And I fear that the mainstream environmental movement is too focused on Keystone XL, a single pipeline that Enbridge is outdoing many times over, to take Enbridge on in any serious way.

Which is why I’m fasting. By fasting, I’m bearing witness to Enbridge’s destruction, and am hoping and praying for the rise of fierce opposition to Enbridge, all over the continent. I’m inspired by the efforts of various inviduals and groups. I’m glad for the work of MICATS, a line 6B whistleblower, groups bringing attention to Line 5 at the “Tip of the Mitt”, groups south of us, various groups and individuals fighting Line 9, those fighting the Alberta Clipper, Sandpiper and Line 61 to the west of us, indigenous resistance that’s greater and more complex than I can ever understand, and a whole mess of others that I can’t fully name. I sincerely hope that these groups and way more can come together to take on this tar sands monster with a force that’s formidable and comparable to it.

Here’s to a hopeful future.

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