ST. PAUL — U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum, along with other state and federal lawmakers, have penned a letter to President Joe Biden requesting his "urgent intervention" in Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement project.
The 63 total signatories in their Monday, Aug. 30 letter cited Indigenous tribal sovereignty and climate change as major concerns as Enbridge continues to build Line 3. Along with Omar and McCollum, who both represent the Twin Cities area, 15 other members of Congress not from Minnesota signed the letter.
The letter comes after hundreds protested the pipeline at the state Capitol and governor's mansion in Saint Paul, as well as near the pipeline construction site over recent days and weeks. Law enforcement blockaded the state Capitol ahead of the planned protests, and dozens of protesters were arrested.
Most of the signatories are Democratic Minnesota state legislators: 35 from the Minnesota House and 11 from the Senate. The Legislature's three top-ranking Democrats did not sign, nor did the state's four other Democratic members of Congress.
In their letter, the 63 lawmakers said that the White House has a responsibility to adequately consult with tribal governments "when considering the extent of environmental, cultural, and social impacts on Indigenous people associated with Line 3 construction and its long-term climate impacts."
"In recent weeks, we have seen concerning violations of treaty rights by public agencies and private actors, ongoing violence against Indigenous women, and environmental impacts that will have long-lasting impacts on hunting, fishing, and wild rice gathering as we grapple with the climate crisis," the lawmakers wrote. "We ask that the Department of Interior uphold the rights guaranteed to Indigenous people under federal treaties and fulfill Tribal requests for a government-to-government meeting concerning Line 3."
In a written response, Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner cited several recent court decisions in the Minnesota Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court affirming the pipeline's permitting process, ruling that appropriate measures were taken to consult with tribes and study environmental impacts. The project is nearly complete, and expected to be in service in the fourth quarter of 2021.
"The Line 3 replacement project is safety and maintenance driven, and it replaces a 1960’s era aging pipeline with a safer one made of thicker steel with more advanced coatings, helping to protect Minnesota’s environment for generations to come," she continued. "After six years of science based review and multiple approvals, Line 3 is the most studied pipeline project in Minnesota history. The pipeline has already been replaced in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin."