Emma VanGorder – Staff Writer
The Line 3 Pipeline is one of the largest oil pipelines in North America, capable of transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil per day. The pipeline runs from Alberta, Canada, through North Dakota, Minnesota, and into Wisconsin, and is owned and operated by Enbridge, a Canadian energy company. The pipeline is extremely controversial, and has received criticism from Indigenous groups, namely the Anishinaabe Nation, which many nations in the northern United States identify under. In Minnesota, the pipeline cuts through treaty lands given to the Ojibwe peoples. This project has also been criticized by grassroots environmental organizations, colleges and universities, politicians and celebrities.
“Since Line 3 is only possible because of its external funding, the goal of tying divestment to the Line 3 movement is to defund the ‘money pipeline’ of financiers of fossil fuel infrastructure like Line 3. Although Gustavus may not be directly invested in Enbridge, as an institution we definitely have financial ties through other players who are funding… like banks we do business with,” Senior Aviva Meyerhoff, co-President of the Environmental Action Coalition said.
The Gustavus Environmental Action Coalition (EAC) has been heavily involved in this issue, and has participated in the Minnesota Line Free Campaign, a student-led fundraiser campaign to stop Line 3 development, as well as the Student Divest Day of Action and Collaboration. They are also currently planning and organizing for Earth Day.
“A divest campaign is just starting to be rebuilt on campus. [The] EAC has had several educational events and campaigns over the past semester and we are continuing to work on raising campus awareness of Line 3 and divestment,” Meyerhoff said.
Sophomore Alex Terpkosh joined the EAC at the beginning of the year to continue his interests in conservation and activism.
“Line 3 is important… because it is an attempt by an industry to prioritize profit over people. Line 3 will be a major contributor to climate change, which threatens all of our collective futures. As a campus community that prides itself on justice and service, we should be standing up against a project like Line 3 that disregards Indigenous treaty rights and threatens Minnesotan ecosystems… as students, we have a right to understand how our college’s financial decisions relate to our values and the impact we want to have in the world,” Terpkosh said.
Gustavus does not currently have any official stance on the Line 3 Pipeline, and has not made any statements about intent to divest funds.
“I support our community members who are participating in thoughtful civic engagement and making their voices heard on issues of environmental sustainability. Divestment is a regular topic discussed by the Gustavus Board of Trustees and our Investment Committee, and we continue to seek ways to adopt investment strategies that integrate environmental, social, and governance factors,” President Rebecca Bergman said.
Gustavus has hired a full-time compost, waste and environmental sustainability manager, is expanding compost resources to all residence halls and academic buildings and is moving forward with installing solar panels near Arbor View.
“These are all important components of the College’s goals to reduce our energy usage 25 percent or more by 2024 and work toward being a zero-waste campus. I would like to highlight our Environmental Action Coalition, the President’s Council for Environmental Sustainability and our Environmental Studies Program for their continued leadership on these important issues… I applaud our students, faculty and staff who are conscientiously organizing around the issues of environmental sustainability and Indigenous rights at the heart of the Line 3 project,” President Bergman said.
Despite recent actions taken by Gustavus to improve sustainability on campus, some feel that the college could be doing more to address these issues, specifically regarding Line 3.
“I believe our institution is treating environmental justice as a checkbox. Most times, statements are produced and action is rarely taken. I hope our institution releases a statement acknowledging the harmful effects of the Line 3 pipeline and the importance of divestment… Asking a college to divest can be challenging but it is equally important that the college understands the future implications of its investments and priorities. After all, solar panels don’t stop pipelines, and land acknowledgements alone don’t protect Indigenous land,” Terpkosh said.
The EAC is currently planning campus events for Earth Day and welcomes any students interested in environment action and justice to consider joining the EAC.