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Federal Court hears White Earth Nation v. Kerry
This Thursday Federal Court hears case against secretly approved Alberta Clipper project
This Thursday, September l0 at 9:00 am, Federal Judge Michael Davis will hear White Earth Nation v. Kerry. Plaintiffs, including the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club, charge that the US State Department secretly approved Alberta Clipper aka the “switcheroo project,” skirting the environmental review required under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”). The State Department’s action has allowed Enbridge to switch lines at the border from the Alberta Clipper Line to an expanded and improved, (but aging) Line 3. The l6 mile border segment moves oil between the Clipper line and the Line 3 segment to, ostensibly, according to plaintiffs, avoid federal law.
“Congress enacted these statutes to ensure federal agencies carefully consider projects with significant impact. The State Department assessed, among other things, the potential for oil spills, air pollution, ground disturbances, climate change effects, and impacts on properties eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places,” the suit charges. “We think that the US State Department should follow the same laws as the rest of us,” Joe Plummer, General Counsel for the White Earth Nation, the lead plaintiff in the case explained.
In late August, over 100 protesters gathered in front of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Georgetown home, urging him to stop Enbridge’s expansion, Kieran Williams, a protester and student at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, told ThinkProgress, “We think it’s absolutely absurd that there has been the environmental review and delay of the Keystone pipeline, but that Enbridge can continue this illegal expansion.”
In 2012, Enbridge applied for presidential permit from Obama allowing them to expand the Alberta Clipper pipeline, which runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. However, going through appropriate environmental reviews makes obtaining a presidential permit from the State Department a lengthy process.
While awaiting a presidential permit for the Alberta Clipper expansion, Enbridge decided to build connections on either side of the border between the new Alberta Clipper, and Line 3, an older cross-border pipeline. Enbridge also proposes to expand and reroute this Line 3, because of 900 structural anomalies. Line 3, built between l962 and l968 had a vaguely worded presidential permit. Enbridge claimed that it could send more barrels of tar sand through its pipelines by capitalizing on unused capacity on Line 3, without having to apply for the same permit required for the Alberta Clipper. In August of 2014, the State Department approved Enbridge’s plan to move forward with certain elements of this connection scheme. In April, a coalition of tribal and environmental groups sued the State Department in the suit White Earth Nation v. Kerry.
Photo of JoAnn Gagnon - Rice Lake Anishinaabe by Jolene Yazzie
What: Formal Federal Hearing for secret pipeline project White Earth Nation v. Kerry
When: Thursday, September l0 at 9:00 am
Where: Minneapolis Federal District Court. 300 S 4th St #202, Minneapolis, MN 55415