As Enbridge pushes Line 3 construction into high gear, legal and moral challenges demand it stop

String of pipeline recently laid out west of the Gully Fen Scientific and Natural Resource Area in Polk County. (Photo: Watch the Line)

Two lawsuits are in the works to force a construction delay in the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline, which is now well underway.

The Red Lake Band and White Earth nations, the Sierra Club and Honor the Earth sued in federal court last week to delay Line 3 construction, arguing it violates treaty rights and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted permits in violation of environmental laws.

Later this week, Honor the Earth says it will join with Red Lake, White Earth and the Sierra Club to go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to seek a construction delay. The influx of construction out-of-state workers threatens to spread COVID-19 in northern Minnesota, they say. And the Court of Appeals has pending lawsuits against Line 3 that still needed to be heard and decided.

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Secretary of the Red Lake Nation issues a call for public support in stopping Enbridge Line 3

Sam Strong, Secretary of the Red Lake Nation, issued a call for public help in stopping Enbridge from building its Line 3 pipeline. He calls the project a violation of Red Lake’s treaty rights.

Indigenous-led organizations such as Honor the Earth and the Giniw Collective have been on the front lines trying to stop Line 3. This is the first call from one of Minnesota’s sovereign Native nations asking people to come to northern Minnesota to support the pipeline resistance.

Sam Strong, Secretary of the Red Lake Nation (screen grab.)
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Federal government to return (some) stolen lands to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Part of an occasional series highlighting examples of truth telling, education, and reparations with Indigenous and African American communities

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe holds less of its original reservation lands than any other Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota. In fact, Leech Lake suffered more land loss than most other reservations in the United States due the efforts by lumber barons to get their hands on the band’s prized timber lands.

The federal government has a trust responsibility to Native Americans. Historically, it deemed Native American “incompetent” to manage their own affairs. The government was supposed to protect Native nations and their lands from fraud and abuse. In fact, the government actively participated in undermining treaty obligations and facilitated land sell-offs to private business interests.

This year, Congress approved a bill to return some 17 square miles to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, lands that had been “wrongly transferred” to the Chippewa National Forest, according to the Pioneer Press.

Chippewa National Forest. Source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

A Leech Lake tribal news release said: “The land restoration is the culmination of years of effort and will honor tribal sovereignty, allowing the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to invest in future generations and build more housing to accommodate their community.”

This is not charity. This is justice.

This is an act to be celebrated and a history to be mourned. While 17 square miles might seem like a lot, it’s a very small measure of repair given the amount of land stolen under the federal Dawes, Nelson, Morris, and Burke Acts of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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Indigenous leaders make urgent call for Water Protectors to attend Line 3 protest near Palisade, Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Site is near where Enbridge plans to drill a tunnel under the Mississippi River

This from MN350: Native leaders on the frontlines of the fight against Line 3 have issued an urgent call: come on Monday, Dec 14 at 9:30am to stand with them and stop construction that imminently threatens the Mississippi River.

Watch the powerful call-to-action video here, and read more information on what you should bring and know before you arrive, including necessary COVID-19 precautions.

Go to Palisade, MN and then head north on Great River Road — you’ll see the meetup point. Since construction began nearly two weeks ago, many people have protested legally along the route, and some have been cited for protecting the water or engaging in peaceful civil disobedience on land where Enbridge is trying to build this harmful pipeline. At the meeting spot, you’ll learn more about the options for how to participate.

Google Earth screen grab of map showing Palisade, MN
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Members of the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee discuss mass resignation, and other news

In this blog:

  • Members of the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Advisory Group explain why they resigned
  • As U.S. Presidents turn, Indigenous Environmental Network sues to stop Keystone XL
  • Upcoming prayerful events to oppose Enbridge Line 3
  • New York pension fund announces divestment from fossil fuels
  • For the Dakota, December is “Tree Popping Moon”
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During pandemic spike, state needs to bar Enbridge Line 3 construction and its influx of out-of-state workers

PUC to hear Red Lake, White Earth requests for pipeline delay on Friday

Native Nations, environmental groups, file suit today to block MPCA’s Line 3 permit

Native Americans are bearing a disproportionate burden of the coronavirus pandemic and getting inadequate government support.

It’s true nationally and in Minnesota. Here, Gov. Tim Walz’ administration has put Indigenous lives at risk by failing to delay Enbridge Line 3 construction and the pandemic risks it entails.

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The state failed to protect Indigenous communities from Line 3’s harms

No accountability for high-sounding promises

The state of Minnesota has paid a lot of lip service to Indigenous communities around “meaningful consultation” and “environmental justice.” As construction on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline seems imminent, the state’s shallow commitment to these promises has become ever more apparent.

White Earth and Red Lake Nations have opposed Line 3 for years. They say its construction and future spills would damage their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather on lands the pipeline crosses. They are currently in court trying to stop the pipeline. The state has proceeded with approvals without making sure treaty issues get resolved first.

Last week, more than half of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned over the agency’s decision to approve a key Enbridge Line 3 pipeline permit. They “cannot continue to legitimize and provide cover for the MPCA’s war on black and brown people,” their letter said.

Today, the Minnesota Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued a letter saying that Enbridge was generally in compliance with its Route Permit conditions, which required plans that were supposed to benefit and protect Indigenous communities.

The PUC required Enbridge to submit a:

  • Tribal Economic Opportunity and Labor Education Plan
  • Human Trafficking Prevention Plan
  • Environmental Justice Communities Mitigation Plan

A close examination shows these plans to be inadequate and lacking in accountability.

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The Walz administration is hypocritical in approving Enbridge Line 3

More than half of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned today over the agency’s decision to approve a key permit for the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan is distancing herself from Gov. Tim Walz’s support for the project.

The state’s decision to approve Line 3 has polluted the legacy of both Gov. Walz and the MPCA, and shines a spotlight on their hypocrisy.

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Governor envy

Michigan’s Whitmer nixes crude oil pipeline under the Great Lakes while Minnesota’s Walz administration greenlights crude oil pipeline that threatens state lakes and streams

It’s a tale of two states, Michigan and Minnesota.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that the state was revoking and terminating Enbridge’s easement to operate crude oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.

They cited Enbridge’s bad-faith efforts to protect the environment and Enbridge Line 5’s threat to the Great Lakes.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota DNR announced this week they would allow Enbridge to build a crude oil pipeline trenching through 355 miles of northern Minnesota, threatening climate, clean waters and treaty rights.

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News and events: Updates on DAPL, Keystone XL, winter gear drive for Fond du Lac children and more

In this blog:

  • Standing Rock, other Native nations, try again to shut down DAPL
  • Judge denies Native nation’s bid to halt Keystone oil pipeline work
  • Tanka Fund raising money to return buffalo to Native lands
  • Winter gear drive for Fond du Lac children
  • Students at the U. of M. Forest Resources Dept. sign-on letter to address systemic racism 
  • A look back at Native vote suppression
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