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Over 300 organizations, representing Indigenous groups and national and local organizations, submitted a letter today to the Biden Administration calling for President Biden to direct the Army Corps of Engin
Over 300 organizations, representing Indigenous groups and national and local organizations, submitted a letter today to the Biden Administration calling for President Biden to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately re-evaluate and suspend or revoke Enbridge's Line 3 Clean Water Act Section 404 permit.
The letter delivers key information on the impacts of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline project and clarifies how Line 3 directly undermines the Administration's priorities, including respecting Indigenous rights and responding to the climate crisis. The letter also alerts President Biden of the upcoming Indigenous-led June mobilization along the Line 3 pipeline construction route and urges him to cancel the project.
The decision to mobilize for non-violent action was not made lightly, especially with the occurrence of state violence at Standing Rock in 2016. However, after years of Anishinaabe and Dakota community members in Minnesota actively opposing this pipeline, and an ongoing legal battle led by Tribal governments, concerned citizens across the United States are heeding the call of Indigenous leaders.
If built, the Line 3 pipeline would unlock CO2 emissions equivalent to 50 coal plants, and cost society more than $287 billion in climate impacts in just its first 30 years of operation. The project is set to cross more than 200 waterways and cut through the 1854 and 1855 treaty territory where Anishinaabe people retain the right to hunt, fish, gather medicines, and harvest wild rice.
The letter is signed by prominent Indigenous, environmental, youth, faith, and health organizations, including Giniw Collective, Honor the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, Fridays for Future USA, Hip Hop Caucus, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Jewish Climate Action Network, CatholicNetwork US and more. In the letter, signatories request President Biden take Presidential Action to stop the pipeline:
"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. To successfully and authentically Build Back Better, your Administration must promptly revoke the Line 3 permit."
This letter follows up on an initial letter sent in March by over 350 groups, encouraging President Biden to stop Line 3.
- - - QUOTES - - -
Tara Houska, Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe, Founder of Giniw Collective: "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. Line 3 is a climate atrocity and a slap in the face to the multiple Ojibwe nations suing against its approval. Respect our sovereignty, respect climate science. Stop Line 3, before it's too late; before our rivers, wetlands, and wild rice watersheds are violated irrevocably."
Winona LaDuke, Bear Clan from Round Lake on the White Earth Reservation, Executive Director of Honor the Earth: "As the North experiences a great drought...and we see catastrophes of biblical proportions, it is not time for this pipeline. 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 DC."
Dawn Goodwin, Anishinaabe White Earth Mississippi Band, Co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network Representative: "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. Today the youth are calling upon our elected officials to take their future seriously, and to heed the warnings of scientists. It is misleading to say Line 3 is a replacement, it is not! It is a relocation and expansion of the tar sands industry that would put our water, and our Anishinaabe homelands and lifeways at risk from potential spills and climate chaos."
Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, National Pipelines Organizer Indigenous Environmental Network: "Line 3 is a climate bomb waiting to go off. It is yet again another dirty tar sands project that threatens the sovereignty of tribal communities, wild rice, sacred medicines and above all the water. This whole project is madness and Governor Walz and President Biden need to step up and stop this climate changer if they truly believe in stopping climate catastrophe. Stand with the people, all the people."
Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College: "Thank heaven KXL is history--but physics is physics, and the tar sands crude that will flow through Line 3 will do precisely as much damage as the tar sands crude that would have flowed through Keystone. As the IEA has pointed out, 2021 is the year to finally draw a line in the sand, and northern Minnesota is the obvious place to do it!"
Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, National Climate Strategist, Advocate for Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Initiative, North America: "Communities from the north, south, east and west are gathering in support of the sovereign rights of Indigenous Nations who steward the land in service to people and planet. We call on our government to act within its authority to do the same! Line 3 is a threat to our shared goals to survive the climate crisis and constrain the forces of greed that extract lives and livelihoods for filthy fossil fuel profit. Now is the time to honor the treaties, and to find the courage for new agreements to end coal, oil and gas for the sake of generations to come."
Veda Kanitz, Chair, DFL Environmental Caucus: "We are moving away from the use of fossil fuels. Building new fossil fuel infrastructure is wrong. In 20 years or less, when this pipeline is no longer needed, there will be no viable fossil fuel industry to pay for removing it and cleaning up the mess left behind. There should be no new fossil fuel infrastructure built under the Biden administration."
Zanagee Artis, Co-Founder and Director of Policy, Zero Hour: "The construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline is an affront to Indigenous sovereignty and a threat to the lives of U.S. citizens everywhere. The United States cannot be a leader on mitigating climate change while also allowing fossil fuel infrastructure to become more entrenched in our energy system."
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Executive Director, The Shalom Center: "Just as the Hebrew Bible is a treasury of the practices of an ancient Earth-based community of shepherds and farmers aiming to live at sacred peace with the more-than-human world, so the practice of Indigenous peoples today should be a factor in our assessment of how to live in peace with Earth. Line 3 violates our best science and indigenous practice. We should stop it."
Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN): "Line 3, like Keystone XL which President Biden cancelled, 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. To do so, the Administration must listen to the people and immediately Stop Line 3."
Marie Venner, Co-Chair, CatholicNetwork US: "President Biden, as a fellow Catholic, I know you care about life for all. Fossil fuels cause so much death and destruction. Air pollution alone, from fossil fuels, causes 8 million deaths per year and the IEA just told us that we should allow no more fossil fuel infrastructure to stay below 1.5 C. Pipeline 3 is threatening the lives and livelihoods of our Indigenous brothers and sisters, those who have preserved 80% of the remaining biodiversity in our common home. Please do right by your kids, grandkids, all people and future generations and stop Line 3!"
Leila Salazar-Lopez, Executive Director, Amazon Watch: "Water is life. It is sacred and must be protected. Line 3 is a threat to water, land, rights, climate and our future generations. It must be stopped! As the Biden-Harris Administration makes climate action plans, it must go further to achieve climate justice, including policies that guarantee Indigenous peoples' rights and protect the environment by keeping fossil fuels in the ground. From the Kichwa in the Amazon to the Anishinaabe in Minnesota, we stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples calling on President Biden to stay true to his word to build back better for our communities and the climate."
Cheryl Barnds, RapidShift Network: "In the White Pine Treaty of 1837, the Ojibwe ceded these lands to the United States, provided 'the privilege of hunting, fishing, and gathering the wild rice, upon the lands, the rivers, and the lakes included in the territory ceded, is guaranteed to the Indians.' Guaranteed. In 1999, the US Supreme Court affirmed the state must respect Ojibwe treaty rights. Can we read between these lines of supreme law to justify rerouting a tar sands pipeline through these very lands and waters as we gasp at the tail end of the fossil fuel era, planetary climate teetering? Come on, man!"
Erika Thi Patterson, Campaign Director for Climate and Environmental Justice, Action Center on Race and the Economy: "We need President Biden to use his executive authority to put a stop to the climate disaster waiting to happen known as Line 3, which will unleash emissions equivalent to 50 coal plants. Even worse, Enbridge's plans to construct this dirty tar sands oil pipeline violate Indigenous sovereignty and threaten to destroy rivers, wetlands, and wild rice watersheds on Anishinaabeg homelands. Biden should honor his campaign promises to frontline communities and immediately take action on Indigenous water protectors' demands for an end to this destructive pipeline and all new fossil fuel projects."
Jason Miller, Director of Campaigns, Franciscan Action Network: "In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls on Christians and all people of goodwill to 'hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.' In order to stop those cries, President Biden must stop approving new fossil fuel infrastructure including the Line 3 pipeline. The Franciscan Action Network stands with those opposing the pipeline, especially Indigenous communities. We urge President Biden: listen to Pope Francis and ensure that we adequately address the climate crisis so that our planet is inhabitable for all people for years to come."
"It's clear that the ultraconservative justices in particular cannot be trusted to hold themselves to the same ethical standard as other federal judges," said one advocate, calling for congressional action.
Fresh calls for federal lawmakers to pass new ethics rules for the U.S. Supreme Court mounted after The New York Times on Tuesday revealed that a former colleague of Chief Justice John Roberts' wife raised concerns to Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice.
After her husband joined the nation's top court, Jane Sullivan Roberts left her job as a law firm partner to work as a legal recruiter. Though Roberts is now the managing partner of the Washington office of Macrae Inc., she and Kendal Price, the author of a letter obtained by the Times, worked as recruiters for the global firm Major, Lindsey & Africa.
"No wonder public trust in the Supreme Court is at an all-time low."
In his letter, Price "argued that the justices should be required to disclose more information about their spouses' work," the newspaper reported. "He did not cite specific Supreme Court decisions, but said he was worried that
a financial relationship with law firms arguing before the court could affect justices' impartiality or at least give the appearance of doing so."
As the Times detailed:
According to the letter, Mr. Price was fired in 2013 and sued the firm, as well as Mrs. Roberts and another executive, over his dismissal.
He lost the case, but the litigation produced documents that he sent to Congress and the Justice Department, including spreadsheets showing commissions attributed to Mrs. Roberts early in her headhunting career, from 2007 to 2014. Mrs. Roberts, according to a 2015 deposition in the case, said that a significant portion of her practice was devoted to helping senior government lawyers land jobs at law firms and that the candidates' names were almost never disclosed.
Patricia McCabe, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court, told the paper that all the justices were "attentive to ethical constraints" and complied with financial disclosure laws, and that the chief justice and his wife had consulted the code of conduct for federal judges.
The reporting comes after Justice Clarence Thomas—one of the Supreme Court's six right-wing members—ignored calls to resign over efforts by his wife, activist Ginni Thomas, to help former President Donald Trump overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. It also follows a September survey showing that U.S. adults' confidence in the court hit a record low.
"No wonder public trust in the Supreme Court is at an all-time low," Brett Edkins, managing director of policy and political affairs for Stand Up America, said Tuesday. "Jane Roberts is just the latest Supreme Court spouse to raise questions about potential conflicts of interest and influence peddling before the nation's highest court."
\u201cThe Roberts Court is corrupt, illegitimate, and undemocratic\n\n\u201cI do believe that litigants in U.S. courts, and especially the Supreme Court, deserve to know if their judges\u2019 households are receiving six-figure payments from the law firms"\nhttps://t.co/meehrlhwgf\u201d— The Debt Collective \ud83d\udfe5 (@The Debt Collective \ud83d\udfe5) 1675199600
Edkins argued that "while she did not join a seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government, as Ginni Thomas did, her actions may nonetheless undermine Chief Justice Roberts' impartiality when his wife's clients argue before the court."
"It's clear that the ultraconservative justices in particular cannot be trusted to hold themselves to the same ethical standard as other federal judges," he added. "It's time for Congress to step up and pass meaningful reforms to fix the Supreme Court, including a code of ethics that would require justices to recuse themselves from cases where they have an actual or apparent conflict of interest."
In a Tuesday tweet, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), lead sponsor of the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, pointed to the reporting as "example #4,394 of why the Supreme Court needs a binding code of ethics."
Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) did not say how his panel may respond to Price's letter but told the Times that it raised "troubling issues that once again demonstrate the need" for ethics reforms to "begin the process of restoring faith in the Supreme Court."
The union representing Florida's professors said it would "stand in lockstep opposition to any and all so-called 'reforms' that will actually destroy our state's world-class degree programs and their ability to serve our students."
Taking aim yet again at higher education, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday proposed sweeping changes to the state's university system, including banning state funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and critical race theory education, as well as forcing tenured professors to undergo reviews at any time.
Speaking during a press conference at the State College of Florida in Bradenton, DeSantis said he is asking the state Legislature to cut all funding for programs he believes are "ideological."
Referring to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs—which aim to promote fair treatment and full participation—and critial race theory, a graduate-level framework dealing with systemic racism, DeSantis said that "we're also going to eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in the state of Florida. No funding, and that will wither on the vine."
\u201cThis program was going to be launched by FAMU in April. Based on the Governor's remarks today via his unhinged press conference, he wants to CANCEL this program and ban it from receiving any public support. \n\nCanceling a program about DEI at an HBCU.\n\nLet that sink in.\u201d— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani \ud83d\udd28 (@Rep. Anna V. Eskamani \ud83d\udd28) 1675185477
Apparently not satisfied with a state law requiring tenured professors at state colleges and universities to undergo reviews every five years, DeSantis also called for legislation that would subject such educators to reviews at any time, at risk of their jobs.
"Yes, we have the five-year review of all the tenured faculty, which is, which is good… and the board of trustees has to determine whether they stay or go. But you may need to do review more aggressively than just five," he said.
"I've talked with folks around the country who've been involved in higher ed reform, and the most significant deadweight cost at universities is typically unproductive tenured faculty," the governor added. "And so why would we want to saddle you as taxpayers with that cost if we don't have to do that?"
United Faculty of Florida (UFF), the union representing college and university educators in the state, said it would fight DeSantis' proposals.
"The United Faculty of Florida stand in lockstep opposition to any and all so-called 'reforms' that will actually destroy our state's world-class degree programs and their ability to serve our students," UFF President Andrew Gothard said in a statement. "We will not allow Florida's future to be sacrificed for cheap political points."
\u201cRon DeSantis just held an UNHINGED press event promising to DEFUND Diversity, Equity, + Inclusion programs in all public colleges/universities.\n\nHis rants against \u2018political ideology\u2019 + \u2018indoctrination\u2019 are accusations in a mirror.\n\nHe wants total political censorship + control.\u201d— Carlos Guillermo Smith (@Carlos Guillermo Smith) 1675184661
Writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Francie Diep and Emma Pettit contended that "it's been a dizzying month for higher ed in the Sunshine State."
As the authors explained:
The recent avalanche of activity began in late December, when DeSantis' office requested that state colleges and universities list their spending on programs related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and critical race theory. Florida's Republican House Speaker, Paul Renner, later asked the same campuses to turn over a mountain of additional DEI-related information.
DeSantis' office also requested that state universities report data on transgender students, and he appointed six new trustees to the New College of Florida's board because, according to his press secretary, the small liberal arts institution has put "trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning."
"What I find most troubling is that DeSantis is putting out a blueprint for other governors and state legislatures,” Kristen A. Renn—a professor at Michigan State University who researches LGBTQ+ college issues—told The Chronicle of Higher Education. "He's doing these things in ways that anybody else can pick this up and do it."
DeSantis—a potential 2024 presidential candidate—has also come under fire for other policies and actions including rejecting a college preparatory African-American studies course, banning unapproved books from K-12 libraries, and the Stop WOKE Act, a CRT ban that applies to schools from the primary through university levels and is meant to combat what the governor called "wokeness as a form of cultural Marxism."
\u201cBanning books, banning DEI, and targeting trans students is all ok but having neo nazis like Nick Fuentes tabling on FSU's campus is ok. Welcome to DeSantis' Florida.\u201d— Alejandra Caraballo (@Alejandra Caraballo) 1674832846
Mia Brett, legal historian at The Editorial Board, last week compared Republicans' attacks on education across the country to similar moves by the leaders of Nazi Germany during the early months of their regime.
"I'm not being hyperbolic when I say this is directly out of Nazi laws passed in 1933. Though if this Republican effort is successful, you might not be able to learn things like that anymore," she wrote, adding that the legislation banning courses on CRT and racial and gender identity are a "chilling erosion of academic freedom and a huge step toward fascist academic control in the service of right-wing narratives."
\u201cI wrote for @johnastoehr last week about how republicans are using the Nazi playbook for fascist education control. Here\u2019s another example https://t.co/oD0X1j0EoN\u201d— Dr. Mia Brett (@Dr. Mia Brett) 1675179218
"While it's still legal to teach history, remember where such efforts have led and take them seriously," Brett ominously warned.
"Vultures," said one critic, are "looking to make a lot of money off this public resource."
Financial speculators are buying and selling rights to the Colorado River's dwindling water resources in a bid to profit as historic drought conditions intensified by the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis lead to worsening scarcity.
Wall Street investment firms "have identified the drought as an opportunity to make money," Andy Mueller, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, toldCBS News on Tuesday. "I view these drought profiteers as vultures. They're looking to make a lot of money off this public resource."
Matthew Diserio, the co-founder and president of a Manhattan-based hedge fund called Water Asset Management (WAM), makes no secret of his intentions, having described water in the United States as "the biggest emerging market on Earth" and "a trillion-dollar market opportunity." The company's website declares that "scarce clean water is the resource defining this century, much like plentiful oil defined the last."
A newly published joint investigation by CBS News and The Weather Channel found that WAM has purchased at least $20 million worth of land in Western Colorado over the past five years, making it one of the biggest landowners in a farming and ranching region known as the Grand Valley.
According to Mueller, WAM has bought more than 2,500 acres of farmland in the area. But "it's the water"—not the land—that investors are really interested in, he said, observing that the farmland comes with water rights.
"There are real fears that this crucial water supply for the West is on the brink of disaster."
Notably, WAM has "hired Colorado's former top water official as one of its lawyers," CBS News reported. Diserio previously stated that "one of his firm's strategies is to profit from water in part by making the farms it buys more efficient and then selling parts of its water rights to other farmers and cities increasingly desperate for the natural resource."
Mueller is tasked with protecting Colorado's share of the Colorado River—a sprawling 1,450-mile waterway that traverses seven states and is a key water source for 40 million people in the western U.S. and northern Mexico, including those in the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City.
Clean water is becoming increasingly scarce in the region for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency.
"The Colorado River relies mostly on snowpack in the Rocky Mountains that feeds into the river as it melts in the spring and summer," Weather Channel storm specialist Greg Postel explained. "But climate change is making the West hotter and drier. For every degree the temperature has gone up, the flow of the river has dropped by about 5%—a nearly 20% reduction over the past century."
The volume of water being withdrawn from the Colorado River has fallen since 2000 despite more people moving to the region. But with less water flowing into the river amid the West's ongoing 23-year megadrought—more severe than anything seen in the preceding 1,200 years—recent decreases in per capita water consumption are insufficient.
"It's taken a major toll on the nation's largest reservoirs," Postel said of climate change-amplified drought. "Lake Powell in Arizona and Lake Mead in Nevada—they are at historic lows. They're at just 25% of their full, combined capacity. There are real fears that this crucial water supply for the West is on the brink of disaster."
\u201cDisaster capitalism. \nInvestors like "Water Asset Mangement" (an actual company) are betting on a water crisis.\u201d— Leslie (@Leslie) 1675176003
As the long-brewing crisis surrounding the Colorado River grows more acute, the federal government has taken steps to compel state-level policymakers to improve how they manage water resources in the increasingly arid region.
For instance, "Congress recently allocated $4 billion in drought funding that can be used to pay farmers to fallow their land and not use their water," CBS News reported. "Some Western states, including Colorado, are also considering paying some farmers to keep their lands fallow." Agriculture accounts for 70% of withdrawals from the Colorado River.
Last August, after the Colorado River Basin states failed to meet a federal deadline to approve a plan for achieving a 15% to 30% reduction in water use, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) announced—based on projected water levels for 2023—that Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico would be forced to draw less from the river this year.
On Tuesday, for the second time in six months, the seven states that depend on the Colorado River failed to reach a water conservation pact by the DOI's deadline, increasing the likelihood the agency will impose cuts later this year. Six states—Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—agreed to slash water use. But California, the largest water consumer of the bunch, refused, setting the stage for what CNNdescribed as a "high-stakes legal battle."
In August, Food & Water Watch research director Amanda Starbuck implored policymakers to "eliminate rampant corporate water abuse before it's too late," decrying the "massive water use of Big Ag and Big Oil."
"By switching to renewable energy sources like solar and wind, California could save 98% of the water currently needed for its fossil fuel production," said Starbuck. "And by transitioning away from industrial megadairies, thirsty crops like almonds and pistachios, and engaging in regenerative farming, California will gain enormous water savings that could serve small farmers and domestic households."
Regarding WAM and other hedge funds looking to profit from looming water shortages, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled legislation last March that would prevent Wall Street from speculating on life-sustaining water resources.
The Future of Water Act, as the congressional Democrats' bicameral legislation is titled, would amend the Commodity Exchange Act to affirm that water is a human right to be managed for public benefit—not a commodity to be bought and sold by investment firms. The bill would also prohibit the trading of water rights on futures markets—a recently invented financial ploy widely condemned as "dystopian."
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said at the time of the bill's introduction that "with the climate crisis delivering historically devastating droughts across the West, it is clearer than ever that water should be treated as a scarce, essential resource, not a commodity for Wall Street and financial speculators."
"This groundbreaking legislation would put a lid on dangerous water futures trading before it creates a crisis," said Hauter, "and it reinforces the fact that water must be managed as a public resource, not a corporate profit center."
Mueller, for his part, said Tuesday that "water in Colorado, water in the West, is your future."
"Without water," he added, "you have no future."