Science for the People: Line 3 Hot Potato

As members of Science for the People-Twin Cities Chapter, we are organized around the principle that science is a set of tools that can and should be used to advance human and environmental justice, rather than corporate profiteering resulting in ecocide and genocide. Acting on this principle has brought us into the Line 3 struggle and the fight for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR), where powerful state institutions and actors use the veneer of science to shield themselves from accountability, while failing to take action consistent with what we know about the science of climate, land, and water. These climate-related experiences push us to tell these stories and amplify grassroots movements. We recognize that the coordination of scientific research to support the movement against Line 3 does not add new information about the devastating impacts of this pipeline, but instead supports and upholds the knowledge held by the original caretakers and stewards of this land, the Dakota and Anishinaabe peoples. We are grateful to collaborate with visionary indigenous and non-indigenous leaders in the effort to Stop Line 3 and MMIR and create a peaceful, just earth. Peter Levin, a graduate student in environmental and science education, led the editing and technical production of this film. The creative ideas, inspiration, planning, and acting was a collective effort of students, scientists, and indigenous leaders.


This film is the product of a group of students, activists, and indigenous leaders living through the struggle to influence the policy process on the Line 3 oil pipeline permit. The fight to keep it in the ground and halt the approval on this climate change-accelerating pipeline revealed to us how broken the permit system is. As a collective of scientists, students, and activists we created this film to demonstrate how different agencies toss the responsibility of the permit process around like a hot potato, ultimately, failing to recognize the damaging impacts Line 3 will have on Minnesota’s environment, indigenous communities, and the climate. This film’s narrative is drawn from the actual events of the permit process and is filled with scientific facts on Line 3 including that it would take 1-2% of the entire earth’s carbon budget per the Paris Accords, in terms of amount of carbon the pipeline would move it equates to 50 coal powered plants, it threatens to spill into the Mississippi River watershed, and violates Ojibwe treaty rights. The grassroots effort to stop Line 3, which is in construction currently, is growing and this project fills a gap in public knowledge of how the permit process failed. Our call to action is to urge President Biden to take responsibility in halting the construction of Line 3 in order to prevent accelerating the climate crisis, support the rights and health of indigenous communities, and protect Minnesota’s environment.