Court of Appeals Denies Motion to Stop Line 3

St. Paul, MN – On February 2, the Minnesota Court of Appeals granted Enbridge the go-ahead to continue construction on the Line 3 pipeline. The ruling denied a lawsuit to stop construction made by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, the Sierra Club, Honor the Earth, and Friends of the Headwaters.

The lawsuit was filed on November 12, 2020, relating to the process taken by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in approving the certification of the Clean Water Act Section 401.

In an emailed press release on Tuesday night, the Sierra Club gave the following statements from “coalition members who have been fighting this project for years,” which includes Winona LaDuke, Frank Bibeau, Joe Plumer, Andy Pearson, Margaret Levin, and Richard Smith. Statements from Pearson, Levin, and Smith can be read at the bottom of this article:

“The climate and fossil-fuel directives coming quickly from the new president – plus the rapidly increasing investment in and growth of renewable energy – make it clear the era of carbon-loaded oil pipelines is coming to a close. On January 26, DAPL lost its appeal to overturn a federal ruling to shut that pipeline down. It’s jarring that the Minnesota court did not recognize these executive and judicial developments, or the strong green trends in the market.”

– Winona LaDuke, Executive Director and co-founder of Honor the Earth

“The Red Lake Nation is very disappointed that the Minnesota Courts place more weight on the employment of out of town pipeline workers than it does the irreparable harm that construction causes to our water, wild rice, and forests.”

– Joe Plumer, attorney for Red Lake Nation  

“It’s disappointing – We will endeavor to persevere.”  

– Frank Bibeau, attorney for the White Earth reservation

Since the mid-November approval of the permits to construct Line 3, water protectors have staged a consistent series of civil disobedience actions and rallies demanding the permits be revoked.

(In-depth report – January 11, 2021) Resistance to Line 3: Direct Actions Aim to Stop Construction

Numerous resistance camps have sprung up in Northern Minnesota, halting construction daily with people locking down to construction equipment and trucks, human and car blockades, and entering work sites. Elected politicians have also joined the growing collective call to stop Line 3.

A large rally in Saint Paul on Friday, January 29, featured the first Indigenous State Senator, Mary Kunesh (DFL-SD41), as well as Sen. Jen McEwen (DFL-SD7), who spoke alongside Indigenous water protectors.

(January 29, 2021) Opposition to Line 3 Mounts

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN5) visited the pipeline’s easement on Saturday, announcing support for the water protectors. “It is going to be really important for people to raise their voice. There’s still an opportunity to stop [Line 3 pipeline]. We know that our governor has the ability to do something and has chosen not to, and Biden, at the moment, has taken action on some of the pipelines across the country and we are urging him to take action in regards to this one because he has that ability.

Rep. Omar also wrote a letter urging President Biden to stop Line 3 construction.

On Monday, February 1, a water protector climbed onto a section of Line 3 pipeline, halting construction for over seven hours. During a live stream from Camp Migizi at the construction site, water protectors said they were “preventing workers from putting the pipe onto frozen sand bags which would have damaged the structural integrity of the pipeline.

” this is what necessity looks like! ” #StopLine3

Posted by Camp Migizi on Monday, February 1, 2021

The next day, hours before the Minnesota Court of Appeals released their ruling, around 50 water protectors from Camp Migizi shut down construction at a site near Cloquet, Minnesota.

Two water protectors locked down to an excavator laying pipe. One of those who locked down said: “Our state laws are not working in the public interest and for the public good. We are endangering future generations… and that’s got to stop.

As the court case was another victory for Enbridge, water protectors are holding onto hope. Efforts to halt construction are expected to continue through the final cold stretches of winter as Enbridge works around the clock in attempting to finish construction in Minnesota by the end of 2021.

“Given the Biden Administration’s recent Executive Order to halt the Keystone pipeline — which is really a twin of the Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline — we are deeply disappointed in today’s decision not to support an overturn of the stay request from the Red Lake and White Earth tribes and Friends of the Headwaters to halt the rapid and dangerous construction of Line 3 during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Line 3 is in court because multiple Native nations, grassroots groups, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce have argued its approval violated state law.”

– Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator with MN350

“These groups deserve their day to be heard. It’s time for President Biden to stop Line 3 like he stopped Keystone XL. Any further delay in stopping construction means irreversible harm to more treaty territory and more pieces of pipe in the ground that are fundamentally incompatible with the Paris Climate Accord. […] We are disappointed that the Court is allowing Enbridge to continue their construction assault on Minnesota’s natural environment, but we will continue our vigorous legal fight against the Line 3 pipeline.”

– Richard Smith, president of Friends of the Headwaters

“This decision is bitterly disappointing. Indigenous leaders, organizers, landowners, and allies have stood on the frontlines for years to fight this pipeline, which would disrupt Minnesota communities, pollute our water, and harm our climate. Now more than ever, it’s up the Biden Administration to cancel this project once and for all.”

– Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter

The water protectors have stood by their claims that the Line 3 project violates treaty rights, causes degradation to the environment, and “man camps” where workers live contribute to the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIW).

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