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Winona LaDuke, Line 3 opponent, and local law enforcement

Indigenous environmental and land rights activist Winona LaDuke talks to Hubbard County law enforcement near the stock pile of Enbridge Pipeline 3 in Park Rapids, Minnesota on June 6, 2021. (Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

As Protesters Face Felonies, Minneapolis City Council Joins Opposition to Line 3

"The world needs to pay attention to what's happening here in Minnesota right now."

Jessica Corbett

While Indigenous-led actions against Line 3 continued in Minnesota on Friday even as some peaceful protesters now face felony charges, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing Enbridge's tar sands oil pipeline.

"We are listening to the Indigenous community in their demand to stop this pipeline, a project which violates the sovereignty of tribal nations and puts Minneapolis' clean drinking water source at risk."
—Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano

The council's 13-0 vote in support of the resolution (pdf) comes as Indigenous and climate justice groups opposed to Line 3—the Canadian company's project to replace an old oil pipeline with a bigger one—challenge it on the ground and in court.

The resolution, which notes that Minneapolis declared a climate emergency in December 2019, clearly states the city's opposition to Line 3 and "calls on every elected leader with the authority to stop its construction to do so immediately."

The council further "requests that the mayor and police chief continue to keep Minneapolis police from participating in the Northern Lights Task Force," a law enforcement coalition formed in response to protests over the pipeline.

In a statement Friday, members of the Minneapolis City Council highlighted Line 3's anticipated impact on Indigenous communities, drinking water, and the global climate.

"We are experiencing a climate crisis in real time," said Jeremy Schroeder, a council member and co-author of the resolution. "We know emissions from Line 3 will exacerbate the climate crisis, including in Minneapolis."

As fellow Council Member Cam Gordon put it: "For our civilization to survive, we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground. That is especially true for especially dirty, carbon-intensive fossil fuels like tar sands."

Council Member Alondra Cano said that "we are listening to the Indigenous community in their demand to stop this pipeline, a project which violates the sovereignty of tribal nations and puts Minneapolis' clean drinking water source at risk."

Winona LaDuke, executive director and co-founder of the Indigenous environmental justice group Honor the Earth, expressed gratitude for the council's support while also taking aim and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat.

"This water we protect serves the people of your city," LaDuke said of Minneapolis. "Together we need to stop the last tar sands pipeline, and help the Walz administration move toward a just transition that will benefit the entire state and help strengthen Indigenous communities."

"Line 3 violates Indigenous rights and is completely out of step with Minnesota's climate goals, and we are glad to see our local leaders standing with frontline communities in opposition to this disastrous project," said Margaret Levin, director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.

MN350 communications director Brett Benson called the council's action "more evidence of the mounting opposition to Line 3."

"The pipeline is proving over and over again to be a bad deal for Minnesotans," he added. "It not only tramples on tribal sovereignty and will dump hundreds of millions of tons of climate pollution into the atmosphere but also is costing Minnesota taxpayers millions of dollars in bailouts to local governments. It's time to put an end to this fiasco."

While state and federal figures show no signs that they intend to stand in the way of the project, some Line 3 opponents who engaged in a peaceful civil disobedience Thursday to protest the pipeline's construction on Anishinaabe treaty territory are now facing felony charges.

"This pipeline is a violent assault on Indigenous people and their rights," declared Rainforest Action Network (RAN) executive director Ginger Cassady before she was detained. "Line 3 would violate the treaty rights of Anishinaabe peoples and other nations."

"This reckless pipeline also flies in the face of logic and science," added Cassady, who is among those now facing felony charges. "It will carry nearly a million barrels a day of the dirtiest fossil fuels on the planet, heavy tar sands oil, across the untouched wetlands, through the Mississippi River headwaters."

RAN staffer Laurel Sutherlin, who also faces charges for peacefully protesting, said that "the world needs to pay attention to what's happening here in Minnesota right now."

"This is urgent. That's why we are putting our bodies on the line in support of local leaders to interrupt construction," she continued.

Calling out big banks and insurers backing Line 3 and other dirty energy projects, Sutherlin said that "their support of this project means supporting the strong-arm, violent tactics by law enforcement. They are directly complicit in the physical abuse, the violation of rights, and the climate disaster that will last generations."

Tara Houska, founder of the Giniw Collective and one of the leaders of the Indigenous movement against Line 3, noted the deadly heatwave hitting the Pacific Northwest, which experts have connected to the human-caused climate emergency.

"Over 13 people died recently from extreme heat in Seattle, while another 60 walked on in Oregon," Houska said. "The coast is burning. Here in Minnesota the rivers and lakes are drought-stricken as Enbridge sucks water for Line 3 drilling mud from exposed river banks. It's total insanity."

"Meanwhile the word in D.C. is 'sound climate policy,' yet Line 3 is being built without a federal Environmental Impact Statement. Line 3 is criminal," she charged. "Land defenders are risking everything, chaining our bodies to the machines that seem to have no end in sight. We need leadership that doesn't compromise what water we have left. We need the environmental movement to step up and stand with the sacred in more than words. Stop Line 3."

The Indigenous Environmental Network spearheaded a protest outside the White House on Wednesday calling on President Joe Biden and congressional leaders to "protect people, not polluters," including through executive action to stop Line 3 and other fossil fuel projects.

The action—which also promoted climate justice provisions for a federal infrastructure package—came after the Biden administration last week filed a legal brief in support of the federal government's 2020 approval of Line 3 under former President Donald Trump.

In response to that move, as Common Dreams reported, Benjamin Goloff, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, accused Biden of "siding with a handful of corrupt corporate elites over honoring treaty rights, climate, water, and the future of life on Earth."


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