Indigenous and environmental activists fighting against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline were outraged Thursday after the Biden administration filed a legal brief backing the federal government\u0026#039;s 2020 approval of the project under former President Donald Trump.\r\n\r\n\u0022This, quite simply, is pure cowardice.\u0022\r\n—Generation Green New Deal\r\n\r\nCritics of the project—which Canadian energy giant Enbridge has undertaken to replace an aging oil pipeline—blasted the U.S. Department of Justice\u0026#039;s late Wednesday filing (pdf) as a betrayal of President Joe Biden\u0026#039;s pledges to address the climate emergency and respect tribal rights.\r\n\r\n\u0022A White House that is serious about protecting communities needs to start by listening to communities when they say they don\u0026#039;t want an oil pipeline threatening their water and land,\u0022 said Janet Redman, Greenpeace USA climate campaign director. \u0022Backing Enbridge\u0026#039;s Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline is a massive failure for a president that campaigned on tackling the climate crisis. And it\u0026#039;s a betrayal of what he promised the American people.\u0022\r\n\r\nBenjamin Goloff, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, accused Biden of \u0022siding with a handful of corrupt corporate elites over honoring treaty rights, climate, water, and the future of life on Earth.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022This 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,\u0022 said Winona LaDuke,\u0026nbsp;executive director of the Indigenous environmental group\u0026nbsp;Honor the Earth, in a statement Thursday.\r\n\r\n\u0022If the president is genuine in his pledge to take climate justice and tribal rights seriously, his administration must stop defending the Trump administration\u0026#039;s decision and undertake a genuine analysis of Line 3\u0026#039;s environmental and human impacts,\u0022 she asserted.\r\n\r\nThe route of Enbridge\u0026#039;s new, larger pipeline crosses Anishinaabe treaty lands. Native American and climate groups have challenged it with actions on the ground—which have sometimes halted construction—and lawsuits at the state and federal level.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Biden DOJ\u0026#039;s brief is for a case filed in the federal district court in Washington, D.C. by Earthjustice on behalf of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Honor the Earth, and the Sierra Club.\r\n\r\nThose groups challenged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers\u0026#039; November 2020 decision to grant a key water permit and permission for specific work related to Line 3. They argue that the corps violated several federal laws—the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act (CWA), the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA), and Administrative Procedure Act (APA).\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe DOJ brief claims that the federal government met its legal obligations for the review and approval process through various actions, which included analyzing alternatives and preparing environmental assessments that considered \u0022the impacts from the corps\u0026#039; authorizations, including to wetlands, the climate, low-income and minority populations, tribal rights to hunt, fish, and gather, and all of the issues to which plaintiffs draw special attention.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe brief notes that the corps considered a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Minnesota state authorities, and incorporated \u0022important protections for wetlands, wild rice, and cultural resources as enforceable conditions of the permit and permission.\u0022\r\n\r\nSince even before taking office in January, Biden has faced pressure to reverse the polluter-friendly policies of his predecessor—including by directing the corps to reconsider its approval of Line 3, fully accounting for its impacts on the global climate and tribal resources.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022We are extremely disappointed that the Biden administration continues the Trump administration\u0026#039;s policy of ignoring tribal, environmental justice, and climate concerns in favor of fossil fuel industry profits.\u0022\r\n—Moneen Nasmith, Earthjustice\r\n\r\n\u0022We are extremely disappointed that the Biden administration continues the Trump administration\u0026#039;s policy of ignoring tribal, environmental justice, and climate concerns in favor of fossil fuel industry profits,\u0022 Earthjustice attorney Moneen Nasmith said Thursday.\r\n\r\nSierra Club executive director Michael Brune called the DOJ\u0026#039;s filing \u0022a massive, tar sands pipeline-sized missed opportunity to break with the Trump administration\u0026#039;s pro-polluter agenda and stand on the side of Indigenous rights and climate justice.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Allowing 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,\u0022 he continued. \u0022As 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.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The 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,\u0022 Brune added.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn a statement about the development Thursday, leaders at the Minnesota arm of 350.org, which is among the groups organizing against Line 3, emphasized expert warnings about the need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels to prevent climate catastrophe on a global scale.\r\n\r\nMN350 communications director Brett Benson said that \u0022at a time when the world is getting hotter and the scientific community is sounding the alarm on the climate crisis, it is time for President Biden to step up and lead by ending this Trump-era expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. Protecting our planet will take bold action, and bold action requires bold leadership. All eyes are on President Biden to do the right thing.\u0022\r\n\r\nWarning about the dangers of inaction on the climate crisis, Andy Pearson, a Midwest tar sands organizer at 350, called the corps\u0026#039; approval \u0022indefensible\u0022 and said that \u0022Biden needs to take every opportunity to undo Trump\u0026#039;s damage, and that means taking away Line 3\u0026#039;s inadequate water permits.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Line 3 would have the climate impact of 50 coal plants and violate treaties with the Anishinaabe,\u0022 the campaigner noted. \u0022Biden can stop Line 3 immediately by revoking Trump\u0026#039;s water permits, and we call on him to act now to honor the treaties and protect our climate.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Hill reported Thursday that \u0022a White House spokesperson declined to comment, but it has said in the past that it will try to keep its judicial branch independent.\u0022\r\n\r\nDespite the disappointment in court, Line 3\u0026#039;s critics vow that this fight is far from over.\r\n\r\n\u0022We intend to keep opposing this pipeline,\u0022 LaDuke told the New York Times. \u0022We will file more legal challenges. Expect more resistance.\u0022\r\n\r\nThis post has been updated with comment from Greenpeace USA and MN350.