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Climate | Environmental Studies | Indigenous Studies | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Sociology | Water Resource Management


In northern Minnesota, the Line 3 tar sands pipeline crosses Indigenous treaty territory, the Mississippi River, and wild rice lakes. Despite the severity of climate crisis and widespread public opposition, Canadian pipeline company Enbridge succeeded in securing permits for, constructing, and ultimately running oil in the pipeline in fall 2021. How was this possible and how did the climate justice movement try to resist? Drawing on participant observation and interviews in the Stop Line 3 movement, this article employs LeQuesne's (2019) concepts of petro-hegemony and carbon rebellion to explain why Line 3 was approved and to assess water protectors' resistance. Analyzing three terrains of power, we find that: 1) the petro-state of Minnesota employed coercion through undemocratic, colonized, and militarized permitting processes and construction; 2) Enbridge manufactured consent through a petro-culture that framed water protectors as dangerous, highlighted economic benefits to rural towns, and co-opted Indigenous voices; and, 3) by overstating its contributions to jobs and taxes, Enbridge tried to secure broad compliance to the pipeline through petro-capitalism, but ultimately failed. Water protectors intervened in all three of these terrains of power by using legal avenues to shake the petro-state, creating cultures to refuse colonialism and embrace climate justice within water protector camps, and building an Indigenous-led renewable energy economy. We contribute a joint analysis of petro-hegemony and carbon rebellion that reveals the need for balanced and stronger resistance in all three terrains of power to stop future petro-projects and dismantle existing petro-infrastructure.

Available for download on Sunday, September 01, 2024