Last night, the Biden administration responded to a federal lawsuit that challenges the issuance of water permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Line 3 pipeline by deciding to ignore their legal obligation to fully analyze the project’s risks to tribes and tribal resources and contributions to the climate crisis.
“We are extremely disappointed that the Biden Administration continues the Trump administration’s policy of ignoring tribal, environmental justice, and climate concerns in favor of fossil fuel industry profits,” said Earthjustice Attorney Moneen Nasmith, in response to the filing.
In May, Earthjustice filed a motion for summary judgement in this case on behalf of Plaintiffs the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Honor the Earth, and Sierra Club. On Wednesday night, the U.S. Department of Justice filed papers opposing the Plaintiffs’ motion and urging the court to grant summary judgment in favor of the Corps. In its briefs, the Corps continued to defend its issuance of the permits and ignore the risks of pipeline construction and oil spills on waters, wetlands and tribal resources; the pipeline’s climate impacts, and the threat posed by the or Tribes’ treaty rights
“The Corps’ submission late last night does not even attempt to argue that its decision to approve Line 3 is consistent with the administration’s commitment to protect our climate and address environmental racism,” Nasmith said.
“If the President is genuine in his pledge to take climate justice and tribal rights seriously, his administration must stop defending the Trump Administration’s decision and undertake a genuine analysis of Line 3’s environmental and human impacts,” she added.
Honor the Earth Executive Director Winona LaDuke said: “This is a racist pipeline project forced down the throats of our people, an ecological time bomb and a giveaway to a Canadian multinational oil interest.”
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said the following: “Today’s action by the Biden administration is a massive, tar sands pipeline-sized missed opportunity to break with the Trump administration’s pro-polluter agenda and stand on the side of Indigenous rights and climate justice. Allowing Line 3 to move forward is, at best, inconsistent with the bold promises on climate and environmental justice President Biden campaigned and was elected on. As Enbridge barrels ahead with construction, time is running out for Biden to stop them from doing permanent damage to critical water resources, trampling on tribal sovereignty, and polluting our climate. The president must listen to frontline communities, defend the right of all people to clean water and a healthy climate, and act immediately to shut down this dirty tar sands pipeline.”
This action from the Biden DOJ follows legal action from Earthjustice, which is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — on behalf of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Honor the Earth, and the Sierra Club — arguing the federal agency illegally approved a water permit so Enbridge could construct a 330-mile pipeline carrying tar sands oil.
Earthjustice argues in the lawsuit, filed in December that the Army Corps, in approving the permit, failed to fulfill its duty to evaluate the pipeline’s risks to tribes and tribal resources and contributions to climate change, as well as other devastating impacts the pipeline would have on waters and wetlands in Minnesota.
In November, under the Trump administration, Canadian oil giant Enbridge received a permit from Army Corps after ignoring environmental risks and threats to tribes and the environment.