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Ilhan Omar Asks Biden to Cancel Controversial Enbridge Pipeline in Minnesota

Omar met with Indigenous tribal leaders on Saturday to hear their concerns about the pipeline being built in her state.

Rep. Ilhan Omar participates in a panel discussion at the The National Housing Center on July 23, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) penned a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, urging him to take action to cancel the construction of an oil pipeline that will stretch across her home state.

The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline would span across Minnesota, transporting hundreds of thousands of gallons of tar sands crude oil from Canada, through North Dakota and Minnesota, to its last stop in Superior, Wisconsin.

In writing to Biden, Omar noted there were environmental concerns about the construction of a pipeline in her state, as well as issues regarding the rights of Indigenous people in the area. The congresswoman invoked in her letter Biden’s recent halting of the Keystone XL pipeline last month, calling his decision to end that project “bold and courageous,” as well as “supported by the scientific consensus that we are running out of time to prevent catastrophic climate change.”

“I joined millions of Americans celebrating your announcement to withdraw permits for the Keystone XL pipeline… I ask that you extend this scrutiny to another massive fossil fuel infrastructure project that will have a comparable impact on our planet: the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline currently being constructed across Minnesota,” Omar said to Biden in her letter.

She noted that the Enbridge project would have “disproportionate impacts on indigenous communities,” and also called out the company’s “abysmal safety and spill history in the U.S.”

“Those concerns continue to be unaddressed in Enbridge’s plans for this pipeline,” Omar added.

Omar further explained that, ultimately, the main issue driving opposition to the line is climate change.

“Under even the best-case scenarios for climate change, we cannot afford to build more fossil fuel infrastructure. That is especially true for projects like Line 3, which are designed for the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive fossil fuel there is, tar sands crude oil,” she wrote.

“Wetlands can’t heal if the climate changes precipitation and temperatures. Indigenous treaty rights are meaningless if the areas are too polluted or unstable to hunt or fish or gather wild rice,” Omar added.

The congresswoman’s letter to the president comes just one day after a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling denied a request by two tribes — the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and the White Earth Band of Ojibwe — to shut down construction of the pipeline in the state. Those tribes claimed in their lawsuit that the project would destroy their lands, which are protected by treaty agreements, while also stating in their arguments that construction of the pipeline would violate their religious rights.

Omar met with tribal leaders in the region on Saturday to discuss the issue directly with them.

“We owe it to future generations, to the Indigenous communities we’ve signed treaties with, and to every living being on this planet to stop building fossil fuel infrastructure,” Omar wrote in a tweet after her visit.

On Friday, close to 600 people protested in St. Paul, Minnesota, calling on Gov. Tim Walz to rescind the permits for the pipeline.

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