Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Philip Nyhus

Second Advisor

Gail Carlson

Third Advisor

Daniel Abrahams


Oil pipelines, such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, are increasingly controversial and contested in the United States. Since its proposal in 2015, the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement (L3R) pipeline in Minnesota has also generated considerable debate. People who support and oppose oil pipeline projects are influenced by their ideologies, core values, partisan learnings, age, identity, and place attachment, as well as their proximity to new energy projects. However, the ability of any one variable, like spatial proximity or age, to predict attitudes towards new energy projects is debated. I conducted a literature review on attitudes towards energy projects, completed 16 interviews with pipeline stakeholders, and examined newspaper articles, court cases, court filings, and other documents to analyze concerns residents of Minnesota have about the proposed L3R pipeline. I also looked at how public attitudes fit into existing frameworks for understanding attitudes towards energy projects generally. Public perceptions toward the L3R pipeline highlight divisions similar to those in debates over the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, but uniquely reveal a changing landscape of environmental and indigenous activism in Minnesota, one that is diverse and led by youth activists and indigenous groups. Future research should examine youth and indigenous views towards energy projects because of the role of youth and indigenous groups in leading resistance to L3R and other pipeline projects.


pipeline, Minnesota, Enbridge, attitudes, environmental activism, energy