September 26, 2017

Youth Climate Intervenors: Frances Wetherall

Frances Wetherall is one of the Youth Climate Intervenors—13 young people who have been granted full status as a formal intervening party in Minnesota’s contested case permit process for Enbridge's Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Read more about the Youth Climate Intervenors here.

Frances Wetherall is one of the 13 Youth Climate Intervenors fighting the Line 3 Pipeline

Name:  Frances Wetherall

Hometown (and how long you have lived there): Saint Paul, 20 Years

Age/Year in school:  20 year old sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus College

How did you get involved with Line 3?

I took a bus trip to the  People’s Climate March in Washington DC to take my stand against the president’s dismissal of the Paris Accords, the continuing exploitation of Native American people, and, if I’m being quite honest, the destruction of the earth as we know it. On the bus rides and during the protests, I met a number of like minded people and had some really interesting conversations about what our next steps should be in the fight for climate justice. Since most of the people I talked to were from Minnesota, Line 3 got brought up a lot, but I wasn’t really sure what my place was when it came to resisting Line three. One of the people I met was Brent Murcia, who later sent me a message inviting me to be a part of the Youth Climate Intervenors. When I read his message, I knew that this was it. This was how I was going to do my part for myself, Minnesota, and young people everywhere.

Why do you care about stopping Line 3?

With every barrel of oil burned, my chances at a long and happy life diminish. My future children  and grandchildren’s chances diminish. I can’t stand idly by while Big Oil profits off the destruction of my future. Stopping one pipeline will not stop climate change and its disastrous effects on my generation and so many more to come. However,  it will put a serious roadblock up against the climate impact of this dirty oil that Enbridge wants to move through my home state. This is one thing I can do to fight for my future and my home.

What does being a Youth Intervenor mean to you?

Being a Youth Climate Intervenor is a honor and, yes, a privilege. So many young people in Minnesota and across the world are currently or are going to be seriously affected by climate change in the coming years, but do not have the means to speak up against the companies who are choosing the bottom line over human lives. I have an opportunity to have a voice in this process that has been unaccessible to young people in the past. I have a platform to speak truth to power and the rarity of it is not lost on me. With my luck comes responsibility and yes, some pressure. I want to do this work to the best of my ability. This isn’t the time to falter.

How does this impact Saint Paul? Why should Line 3 matter to Saint Paul?

Climate Change knows no geographical boundaries. Everyone will be affected by the climate impact of the pipeline. When it comes to Line 3, however, the impact goes beyond climate change. If you live in Saint Paul, you are living on ground stolen from Native American people. If you live in Saint Paul, you have neighbors who are Native American. Maybe they are houses or blocks or neighborhoods away, but they are your neighbors nonetheless and the issues surrounding treaty rights and Line 3 can’t be ignored. Then, of course, there is the Mississippi River, who is also your neighbor in a way. The pipeline being proposed will run right through the headwaters of the Mississippi. Any leaks or spills will arrive at Saint Paul’s doorstep shortly. This will affect the water quality and ecosystems within and surrounding the Mississippi river. This will affect anyone who depends on the Mississippi river basin for recreation, work, or drinking water. We all have a stake in this.

What is a fun fact no one would know about you?

I once shook President Obama’s hand.


Meet the Youth Climate Intervenors

Check back soon for profiles of the rest of the Youth Climate Intervenors!