October 16, 2017

Youth Climate Intervenors: Margaret Breen

Margaret Breen 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.

Margaret Breen is one of the 13 Youth Climate Intervenors fighting the Line 3 Pipeline

Name: Margaret Breen

Hometown (and how long you have lived there): I was born and raised in Minneapolis, and now am a student at Macalester College in St. Paul.

Age/Year in school: 19, Sophomore in college

How did you get involved with Line 3?

Over the past couple of years I have joined the fight for racial justice; attending Black Lives Matter rallies, educating myself on issues such as mass incarceration and police brutality, and engaging in conversation with others. I have always considered myself an environmentalist, but not actively involved in the movement because I was more passionate about racial justice. But then Standing Rock happened, and it opened my eyes to how connected these two issues are.

I was inspired to learn more about this intersectionality, so I registered for an Environmental Justice class at Macalester College. It was in this class where I first learned about Line 3. I immediately saw the parallels between this pipeline trying to be built in Minnesota and the Dakota Access Pipeline and felt the need to get involved at the early stages of the permitting process. It was at this point I reached out to Akilah Sanders-Reed, who I had met in the fall while organizing a trip of students from Macalester to go to Standing Rock. She introduced me to the MN350 pipeline resistance team, which I have since joined and am actively involved with. She also told me about potentially getting a group of youth together to formally intervene in the permitting process. I saw this as an incredible opportunity to share my voice in this process.

Why do you care about stopping Line 3?

I wish my answer to this question was simple enough to put into a short statement here, but my motivation to stop Line 3 is complex and intersectional.

First and foremost, I care about Minnesota; the water land, and people who reside here. This pipeline threatens our state's most pristine and beautiful natural resources. The construction of this pipeline, it’s inevitable spills, and its contribution to the growing threat of climate change will have detrimental affects on our region and the people who live here.

Secondly, this pipeline is not being built for the greater good. Tar sand oil is the dirtiest and most hazardous type of oil out there, and there is very little of it left in Alberta. So we have to really critically ask; Why are we building new infrastructure for resources that are harmful and limited instead of investing in a clean energy future? It is because it benefits the people on top, and the risk it poses to the people on the bottom isn’t as important as corporate profit. And I do not want to sit idly and watch that kind of injustice happen here in our state.

What does being a Youth Climate Intervenor mean to you?

As a youth, I am terrified of the growing threat of climate change and what this pipeline will contribute to it. But I am also optimistic because there are people standing up and demanding that we begin to prioritize our environment. The judge has granted us a voice in this process. Being a citizen intervenor is all about taking power back from the corporations and big money interests and giving a voice to the people. Especially giving a voice to the youth because we will have to suffer the repercussions of this project for much longer and historically are not given an opportunity to share our opinions in these kind of processes.

How does this impact (this city/community)? Why should Line 3 matter to Minneapolis?

If constructed, Line 3 would be carrying Tar Sand oil. This is the dirtiest and most dangerous type of oil there is, so when a leak occurs (which the DEIS estimates will happen at least once every four years), it will have negative impacts on our entire state, especially through our water. Water, in the form of lakes and rivers, is what defines our state. I grew up swimming in Lake Harriet, riding my bike along the Minnehaha Creek and overlooking the Mississippi River from the Stone Arch Bridge. And I want future generations of Minneapolis youth to be able to do the same. But all of that is at risk if we continue building pipelines through our state, so we must put our foot down and demand that we start prioritizing our environment.

It is also important to acknowledge that this pipeline will not affect all Minnesotans equally. While people residing in Southwest Minneapolis will absolutely feel the impacts of this, it is not going directly through our backyards as it is for indigenous tribes whose rights are being violated, or landowners along the route of the pipeline. But this is not a rural vs. urban issue and this isn’t something that we can afford to be divided on. We are all Minnesotans, and if the people up north are hurting, then we all need to stand together to work for the wellbeing of all Minnesotans.

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

I was a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

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Meet the Youth Climate Intervenors

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