Students from more than six University of Wisconsin schools hosted the March Against Pipeline Expansion on Saturday, Mar. 4, in Whitewater.
The march was a result of efforts from the Wisconsin Youth Network, a relatively new student run organization that spans the UW network including UW-Stevens Point.
Zach Jones, natural resources planning major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, co-founder of the Wisconsin Youth Network, vice president of 350-Stevens Point and attendee of the march, said he thought this was the most successful event the network has put on since its genesis over a year ago.
The march began at the University Center at UW-Whitewater and proceeded through downtown and a few residential streets before ending at Cravath Lakefront Park where various speakers told stories and shared ideas about pipeline expansion and fossil fuels.
“Everybody felt really excited to be there and empowered and ready to continue the fight onwards,” Jones said.
The goal of the march was to oppose Enbridge, an energy delivery company based in Canada, from supplementing their existing pipeline with a new one, as well as to support the implantation of renewable energy technologies.
Enbridge has not officially announced that they will be building a new pipeline, although it is becoming common knowledge that they have begun asking residents who live near the current pipeline for additional easements or expansions of Enbridge-owned space where an active pipeline currently is.
“The purpose of the rally was to bring people together, to get media coverage, and to stop the pipeline from expanding,” Jones said.
The protesters had many concerns regarding a new pipeline, including the potential for spills to affect nearby water and soil.
Enbridge has claimed in the past that it has invested billions of dollars into maintenance and improvements to their existing pipelines.
Additionally, Enbridge reported delivering 2.8 billion barrels of oil nationwide in 2015, and of that only spilled 15 barrels that reached outside of Enbridge property, and 279 barrels total. They have also claimed an average of only 70 leaks per year nationally over the last decade.