Breaking: New legal challenges to Line 3’s construction in northern Minnesota are being filed in state and federal courts

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A Separate Joint Filing by Line 3 Opponents Will Also Challenge Second PUC Denial of Stay Request by White Earth and Red Lake Tribes.

EARTHJUSTICE REQUESTS INJUNCTIONS AGAINST LINE 3 CONSTRUCTION IN FEDERAL LEGAL FILING AGAINST THE US ARMY CORPS 404 PERMIT, CITING LACK OF A FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT AND OTHER CULTURAL AND CLIMATE HARMS

THE NATIONAL ADVOCACY GROUP IS LEAD COUNSEL IN THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE CASE

CALLAWAY, MINN., -- December 29, 2020 – In less than a week’s time, new legal challenges to Line 3’s construction in northern Minnesota are being filed in state and federal courts. On December 24, 2020, Earthjustice, a national advocacy group, filed a legal challenge in Federal district court in Washington, D.C., against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit for Line 3, on behalf of the Red Lake and White Earth nations, Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club. 

Known for its lead counsel on the Dakota Access Pipeline case in North Dakota, the Earthjustice suit cited four main claims, * and asks for temporary and permanent injunctions to stop building the controversial tar sands pipeline in northern Minnesota.

A separate appeal of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s 401 certification was also recently filed by Friends of the Headwaters (FOH) on behalf of itself, Red Lake and White Earth tribes, Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club.

PUC Appeals Also to Be Filed

On December 23, 20202, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) rapidly declined for a second time to issue a stay request by Red Lake and White Earth tribes to temporarily halt construction due to Covid-19 concerns augmented by Enbridge’s 4,200 workers. “Enbridge coronavirus hot spots” appear in Aitken County and other communities already stricken at higher levels than the state. 

It’s amazing how racist and dismissive the Public Utilities Commission is to Native peoples,” Winona LaDuke said, commenting on the swift dismissal of the appeal, which occurred less than two hours after Red Lake and White Earth filed their motions. That PUC decision will be appealed yet this week in a joint effort by both tribes, Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club. 

Minnesota’s own Department of Commerce (DOC), FOH, the Mille Lacs Band and Youth Climate Intervenors are all filing separate appeals.   

The plaintiffs in the Earthjustice filing requested a preliminary injunction based on the lack of a formal Federal Environmental Impact statement as the Army Corps relied on the state’s EIS, which continues to be challenged by the plaintiffs. Those grounds include a lack of spill analysis of Lake Superior, an omission of climate related impacts of the Enbridge project, the lack of a full cultural impact assessment, and the lack of any meaningful assessment of alternatives, including a No Build Option.

“The plaintiffs in the Earthjustice filing and the state of Minnesota in other filings need to have their day in court,” LaDuke added.  

EARTHJUSTICE CHALLENGE – AND INDIGENOUS AUTHOR LOUISE ERDRICH’S NY TIMES OP ED – HIGHLIGHT THE HIGH COST OF TAR SANDS EXTRACTION AND EXORBITANT LINE 3 CARBON LOADING  

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According to the Earthjustice filing against the Corps, “Tar sands oil production generates almost triple the global warming pollution as conventional oil production due to the massive amounts of energy needed to extract, upgrade, and refine the oil.” 

That same view is reflected in the December 28, 2020 Op Ed piece, “Not Just Another Pipeline - The expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline is a breathtaking betrayal of Minnesota’s Indigenous communities — and the environment,” piece in The New York Times by prize winning Indigenous author, Louise Erdrich:

“The state’s environmental impact assessment of the project found the pipeline’s carbon output could be 193 million tons per year. That’s the equivalent of 50 coal-fired power plants or 38 million vehicles on our roads, according to Jim Doyle, a physicist at Macalester College who helped write a report from the climate action organization MN350 about the pipeline. He observed that the pipeline’s greenhouse gas emissions are greater than the yearly output of the entire state. If the pipeline is built,” Erdrich writes, “Minnesotans could turn off everything in the state, stop traveling and still not come close to meeting the state’s emission reduction goals. The impact assessment also states that the potential social cost of this pipeline is $287 billion over 30 years.”

ENBRIDGE PUSHING AHEAD WITH LINE 3 DESPITE LEGAL IMPLICATIONS AND THE RECENT DEATH OF ENBRIDGE WORKER 

Despite the pending legal outcomes – and one death of a pipeline worker  --  Enbridge has aggressively moved ahead with Line 3, with a workforce of 4,200, primarily out of state pipeline workers.  

The Enbridge pipeline project is intended to cross over 800 wetlands and 227 bodies of water, resulting in significant damages to the areas of the l855 and l863 treaty territories of the Anishinaabe and the waters and wild rice. 

On November 23, 2020, the Corps granted Enbridge’s request for a Clean Water Act (“CWA”) Section 404 permit to discharge dredged and fill material into waters of the United States. 33 U.S.C. §1344. Along with that permit, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued permits to Enbridge to discharge over 630 million gallons of water, and cause the destruction of endangered species, for which the state will receive approximately $2.3 million from Enbridge. 

For more information – or to interview Winona LaDuke and or attorneys about the Army Corps and other legal filings – please contact Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications, 612-729-8585, mkeller@meduasavantcom.com (Download PDF)


*EARTHJUSTICE CLAIMS AGAINST US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS 

FIRST CLAIM: The Corps’ Failure to Adequately Consider the Direct, Indirect and Cumulative Impacts of Its Permit Action Violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act

SECOND CLAIM: The Corps’ Failure to Prepare an EIS Violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act

THIRD CLAIM: The Corps’ Failure to Evaluate All Relevant Factors, Including Cumulative Impacts, and to Choose the Least Damaging Practicable Alternative Violated Clean Water Act §404 and the Administrative Procedure Act

FOURTH CLAIM: The Corps’ Inadequate Public Interest Review Violated the Clean Water Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, the Corps’ Own Permitting Regulations, and the Administrative Procedure Act

Download

Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction + Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

 


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