Ilhan Omar Calls on Biden to Follow End of Keystone With End of Enbridge Line 3

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota traveled to the northern part of her state on Saturday to meet with Indigenous leaders and environmental justice advocates who are organizing opposition to Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline project.

“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,” said Omar.

Omar’s visit comes after two water protectors in Park Rapids brought an Enbridge worksite to a halt on Friday by locking themselves to barrels of concrete. Also on Friday, activists at two additional worksites in the Fond de Lac Reservation temporarily blocked construction by “climbing into the bottom of trenches dug for the pipeline,” remaining there until they were arrested, the Pine Journal reported.

“We need everyone doing everything and together we will stop Line 3,” Lauren Berube, one of the participants in the direct action in Park Rapids, said in a statement.

A couple hundred miles south, almost 600 people heeded Berube’s call and took to the streets of St. Paul on Friday night to protest the Line 3 project, calling on Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to rescind the permit for the pipeline to prevent drastic ecological and social harm.

As Common Dreams has reported, climate justice and Indigenous rights advocates are opposed to the expansion of the Line 3 pipeline, which would send 760,000 barrels of crude oil every day from Alberta through North Dakota and Minnesota, to Wisconsin — traversing more than 800 wetland habitats, violating Ojibwe treaty rights, and putting current and future generations at risk of polluted water and a despoiled environment.

Since Enbridge began working on the pipeline in late November 2020 despite pending lawsuits, opponents have attempted to halt construction through civil disobedience, with additional arrests being made in December and January.

The Pine Journal on Friday detailed how Taysha Martineau raised $30,000 on GoFundMe to purchase a piece of land adjacent to Enbridge’s planned route through the Fond de Lac Reservation. The parcel has been become “Camp Miigizi,” a home base for water protectors who want to impede further construction on Line 3 so that outstanding legal challenges can be heard.

“I’m hoping that by slowing them, I’m ensuring that day in court for my relatives,” said Martineau.

Walz, who said publicly in February of 2019 that projects like this one “don’t just need a building permit to go forward, they also need a social permit,” has been widely condemned for giving Enbridge the green light to continue working on Line 3 even though it has been described as “a tar sands climate bomb.”

Earlier this month, progressives praised President Joe Biden for revoking a federal permit allowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. and urged him to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline and Line 3 as well, “since the scientific and human rights principles are exactly the same,” as Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, put it.

Following Omar’s meeting with #StopLine3 organizers on Saturday, environmental activist Winona LaDuke thanked the Democratic lawmaker for the “leadership and solidarity” she demonstrated by “visiting our beautiful territory in the north to protect our water.”

In a video interview, Omar said that “there is still an opportunity for us to stop” the construction of Line 3. “It is going to be really important for people to raise their voice.”

“We know that our governor has the ability to do something but has chosen not to,” Omar added. “Biden, at the moment, has taken action on some of the pipelines across the country, and we are urging him to take action in regards to this one because he does have that ability.”

“We need to collectively protect the environment, to see ourselves as stewards of the earth that we [have] been allowed to exist on,” Omar tweeted on Saturday night. “There shouldn’t just be particular people who are thought of as water protectors, we should all be water protectors.”