Mapping the Enbridge Midwest Octopus

If I had all the time in the world, I would turn the very basic Google My Map above into something a little more complete and polished. But sometimes quick solutions are better than nothing when the need arises. In this case, the data needed to be out there for water protectors and others to see the tar sands Ground Zero in our backyard. Now more than ever, we need to be mapping climate-changing infrastructure and sites of resistance. If you know of anything that you think should be added to the map above, please get in touch by posting a comment on this entry.

Things are heating up in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Enbridge Energy is the biggest transporter of tar sands oil in the country. At a combined capacity of nearly 2.7 million barrels per day, its pipelines from northern Alberta to the Midwest, eastern Canada, and the Gulf Coast dwarf the other two tar sands pipelines, Kinder Morgan Transmountain (300,000 bpd) and TransCanada Keystone (590,000; 1.3 million if XL is built). Almost all of the crude and dilbit Enbridge transports gets routed through its main terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Here’s what Enbridge says about the termial (from the pipelines map linked above):

“With 45 storage tanks, and a shell capacity of 13 million barrels, Enbridge’s Superior Terminal, in Superior, WI, is a vital hub for safe, reliable crude oil transportation across the United States. About 20 percent of all daily U.S. crude imports pass through Superior Terminal.”

This makes the little-known Superior Terminal ground zero for climate change in North America. But groups in the Midwest are taking notice. In Wisconsin, a coalition of environmentalists, climate change activists, and landowners took on a recent tripling of capacity in Line 61, and are now fighting a possible “twin” pipeline, Line 66, along the same corridor across the state. In Michigan and northern Wisconsin, activists are standing up against the 64-year-old Line 5, which threatens the Straits of Mackinac and has been operating with expired permits in the Chequamegon National Forest and Bad River Indian Reservation. It just came out that Enbridge lied to Michigan state officials about the amount of damage to its pipelines under the Straits, and the state is now trying to mollify the increasingly noisy resistance by conducting a “risk assessment” of the line—led by a former Enbridge employee.

And in Minnesota, several water protectors have been arrested in blockade actions against Enbridge’s construction of a new Line 3 “replacement” pipeline. Enbridge wants to abandon its current pipeline in place and built a new route that threatens even more wild rice lakes and Treaty-protected lands than the old one. Two water protector camps—Camp Makwa, the frontline resistance camp, and the Ma’iingan Prayer and Culture Camp—have been set up in rural northeast Minnesota near the current pipeline. The Indigenous-led nonprofit Honor the Earth, Minnesota 350, and independent water protectors have been organizing direct actions, marches, and turnout at public hearings around the pipeline.

I will do what I can to keep putting all of this on the map.

The pipeline route data above comes from as follows: Line 61: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration via 350 Madison (downloaded before access to data was severely restricted by the Trump Administration); Line 5: OpenStreetMap, verified by cross-checking with satellite imagery and some ground truthing on the Bayfield Peninsula (for some reason this is much more accurate data than I could find from the one other available web source, linked to the National Wildlife Federation); Line 3: provided by Honor the Earth.