Indigenous and climate campaigners who helped President Joe Biden win the White House with warnings about what was at stake in last year’s election are now pushing him to deliver on his campaign promise to #BuildBackBetter by stopping a pair of fossil fuel pipelines and implementing a climate test for federal permits and projects.
“If we’re going to build back better, as Biden says, we’ll need to end dangerous pipeline construction, prevent all new fossil fuel infrastructure, and Build Back Fossil Free,” said Brooke Harper of the environmental advocacy group 350.org in a statement Thursday.
According to 350.org, over 300,000 people across the country have signed petitions demanding Biden stop the Line 3 and the Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines, which the group delivered to the administration, along with hosting a digital rally on those projects and calls for considering the climate in decisions about future ones.
“Fossil fuel companies have destroyed our planet and harmed our communities irreparably, specifically Black, Indigenous, and communities of color,” said Harper. “Now we’re rising to secure the livable future we all deserve, which means an end to Line 3 and DAPL and the enactment of a climate test.”
DAPL carries oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to a terminal in Illinois. The pipeline has gained international notoriety for the Indigenous-led resistance against it—and private security and law enforcement’s forceful crackdown on protests.
Earlier this month, despite sub-zero temperatures, young people from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Nations—which have led the yearslong fight against DAPL—embarked on a 93-mile run to protest the pipeline and pressure the Biden administration to #BuildBackFossilFree.
That effort followed five Democrats in Congress joining calls for Biden to order an immediate shutdown of DAPL after an appellate court panel ruled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated U.S. law when granting an easement for the pipeline to cross a federal reservoir along the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
William Cameron, a resident of the Standing Rock Reservation, said Thursday that the fight against DAPL “is very important to me because it changed my life to be a leader, to speak up for what I believe in for my people, and be a representative for the youth on a bigger platform—to show youth that our voices matter, we matter.”
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Opponents of Line 3 have been challenging Canada-based Enbridge’s effort to replace an old oil pipeline with a larger one that runs from Alberta, through North Dakota and Minnesota, to Wisconsin with both frequent actions on the ground that have, at times, successfully halted construction as well as ongoing litigation.
Ojibwe activist and lawyer Tara Houska fought against DAPL and founded the Giniw Collective, which is battling Line 3 in Minnesota.
“Line 3 is a climate time bomb.”
Honor the Earth
“Here’s the basics of Line 3: it’s not a local job creator, Enbridge failed its promises, and well over half of its workers are from out of state,” said Houska. “Enbridge’s Line 3 violates Indigenous treaty rights, that’s why three different tribes are suing.”
“This isn’t a replacement, it’s a triple capacity line through untouched wetlands and 200 bodies of water, including the Mississippi River headwaters,” she added. “Lastly, Enbridge can’t even demonstrate the ‘need’ for Line 3, that’s why Minnesota’s Department of Commerce is suing Minnesota for issuing a certificate of need. Expanding tar sands in the face of the climate crisis is insanity. Stop Line 3 and shut down DAPL.”
As Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth put it: “Line 3’s most serious immediate impacts will be on Indigenous peoples and their lands and waters along the line. But the increasing climate threats to Minnesota—and the planet—will be exponentially exacerbated by this pipeline. In short, Line 3 is a climate time bomb.”
“I am taking a risk as an act of love for the forest, the wetlands, the rivers and the lakes I grew up with. I am proud to stand with those Indigenous to this land who are fighting for all of our futures.” – Water Protector Rose, on the ground in northern MN. #StopLine3 https://t.co/mYitHJcVfu
— FCNL (Quakers) (@FCNL) February 24, 2021
Biden’s executive actions on day one of his presidency included recommitting to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which the U.S. formally rejoined last week. Climate campaigners within and beyond the United States have called on the Biden administration to contribute a “fair share” to efforts to achieve the Paris goals of limiting temperature rise this century to “well below” 2°C, and preferably 1.5°C, compared with pre-industrial levels.
While some scientists and activists have criticized the Paris agreement for not being adequately bold, experts have also warned that countries’ current plans to reduce planet-heating emissions are nowhere near ambitious enough to hit even its targets. A recent study found emission pledges need to increase by 80% to meet the 2°C goal.
On his first day in office, Biden also quashed the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. Keya Chatterjee of U.S. Climate Action Network said Thursday that “stopping the Keystone XL pipeline was a critical step for securing a stable climate and justice for the communities in its path, and by that same logic, Biden also needs to stop Line 3.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people have raised their voices in solidarity with this Indigenous-led struggle, and we will not give up, or be distracted,” Chatterjee declared. “Everybody deserves clean water, clean air, and a stable climate, and we cannot and will not allow Enbridge or the politicians who do Enbridge’s bidding to attack those rights so blatantly. We call on Biden to stop Line 3 now.”