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Youth demonstrators demand President Joe Biden shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline and stop Line 3 during a rally on April 1, 2021 at U.S. Army Corp of Engineers headquarters in Washington D.C. (Photo: Lenin Nolly/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Youth demonstrators demand President Joe Biden shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline and stop Line 3 during a rally on April 1, 2021 at U.S. Army Corp of Engineers headquarters in Washington D.C. (Photo: Lenin Nolly/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As Mobilization Gains Steam, Over 300 Groups Implore Biden to 'Stop Line 3'

"Line 3 is a climate bomb waiting to go off," said one organizer. "This whole project is madness."

Jessica Corbett

"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."

Ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Scotland scheduled for November, Biden has returned the U.S. to the Paris agreement, hosted a leaders' summit, and vowed to cut the nation's planet-heating emissions in half over the next decade.

The letter says:

Your administration's announcements on protecting our nation's lakes and rivers, cleaning up aging and retired fossil fuel infrastructure currently polluting delicate environments, and building a clean energy economy powered by good, union jobs have set the vision and direction for the United States and the world—with Glasgow on the horizon. Together this mandate comes the inseparable and urgent need to stop fossil fuel companies from further entrenching the fatal fossil fuel era with dangerous projects like Line 3, which threaten to hamper your goals for decades into the future.

As Giniw Collective founder Tara Houska of the Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe put it: "It's great to hear the Biden administration acknowledges the U.S. shouldn't bend to endless expansion dreams of Canadian tar sands companies—it would be better if President Biden took action, right now."

Honor the Earth Winona LaDuke executive director of the Bear Clan from Round Lake on the White Earth Reservation argued that "it's time for infrastructure for people, not for a rogue Canada corporation trying to make a buck at the end of the fossil fuel era. It's time for water and for a just transition in D.C."

The letter and planning for next month's gathering come amid contentious debates in the nation's capital over Biden's proposed two-part infrastructure plan. As Common Dreams reported earlier Wednesday, White House and Republican lawmakers have made no discernible progress in ongoing talks to reach a deal on the president's proposal, which progressive campaigners continue to criticize as already inadequate.

In a statement about the letter, Dawn Goodwin of the Anishinaabe White Earth Mississippi Band echoed messaging from progressives pushing Biden to go even bolder on infrastructure.

"Our Elders have told us that over 50 years ago we were told to start moving away from fossil fuels due to the dangers of rising CO2 levels in our atmosphere," said Goodwin, co-founder of RISE Coalition and a member of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). "Today the youth are calling upon our elected officials to take their future seriously, and to heed the warnings of scientists."

Last week, IEN joined with Bold Alliance and partners from frontline communities to launch a national "Stop Trump Pipelines" campaign. The first targets are Enbridge's Line 3 and Line 5 pipelines.

IEN organizer Joye Braun of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe warned Wednesday that "Line 3 is a climate bomb waiting to go off."

"This whole project is madness," said Braun, calling on the president and Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to "step up and stop this climate changer if they truly believe in stopping climate catastrophe."


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