“To successfully and authentically Build Back Better, your administration must promptly revoke the Line 3 permit.”
“Your unprecedented goals for climate action, for federal respect of tribal sovereignty, for environmental justice, and for science all demand you revoke or amend the Line 3 presidential permit.”
—300+ groups’ letter
That was the takeaway message from a letter (pdf) that more than 300 groups sent Wednesday urging U.S. President Joe Biden to block a tar sands pipeline set to run through Anishinaabe treaty land and the Mississippi River headwaters.
Specifically, the letter’s signatories want the president to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to suspend or revoke Enbridge’s Line 3 Clean Water Act Section 404 permit.
The Canada-based company proposed Line 3 to replace an older, smaller oil pipeline. The Indigenous-led movement to stop it—which highlights both treaty and climate concerns—is organizing a mass mobilization for next month. Activists plan to hold the Treaty People Gathering from June 5 to June 8 in Minnesota, inviting allies from around the country to join them in putting their bodies on the line.
“Only a major, nonviolent uprising—including direct action—will propel this issue to the top of the nation’s consciousness and force Biden to act,” declares a website for the planned gathering along the pipeline route.
The letter explains that “this decision was not made lightly by organizers, especially after witnessing the violent, militarized police response to water protectors at Standing Rock. Yet, due to countless unanswered calls from Indigenous leaders and other experts to halt Line 3 construction, revoke or suspend the 404 permit, or respect Indigenous rights and treaties, escalation on the ground is now underway.”
Climate scientists and other energy experts continue to warn that the world my rapidly phase out fossil fuels to avert more catastrophic climate impacts. The letter warns Biden that his administration “cannot afford to continue approving fossil fuel infrastructure permits.”
The letter also notes Biden’s executive action on Day One of his presidency to block another climate-polluting project, the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Your unprecedented goals for climate action, for federal respect of tribal sovereignty, for environmental justice, and for science all demand you revoke or amend the Line 3 presidential permit, as you did for Keystone XL (KXL),” says the letter. “Your rejection of the KXL permit strongly signaled that the Biden administration will deliver a historic break from the reckless fossil fuel giveaways of the Trump administration.”
“Line 3 would be the same diameter as KXL, would carry the same heavy tar sands oil through the Midwest, and was also inappropriately permitted by the Trump administration,” the letter continues. “Canceling the Line 3 permit is consistent with canceling the KXL permit and is foundational to fulfilling your transformative, intersectional promises.”
Osprey Orielle Lake, executive director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), said in a statement Wednesday that like KXL, Line 3 “is a pipeline perpetuating further Indigenous rights violations, destruction of the climate, and increased rates of violence toward Indigenous women living near ‘man camps’ associated with pipeline construction.”
“The Biden-Harris administration has a chance to make good on their promises to take action on climate, public health, and respecting Indigenous sovereignty,” she said. “To do so, the administration must listen to the people and immediately stop Line 3.”
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