Activists are executing a three-pronged pressure campaign in their bid to stop a Minnesota pipeline project: protesting in public, arguing their case in the courts and, now, trying to win a sympathetic ear in the White House.
Opponents of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline are hoping they can convince the Biden administration to block the project, according to The Hill.
At the heart of the battle is a new segment of the pipeline that the company is calling a "replacement," though The Hill noted the new section will take a different route than the original.
Activists maintain the pipeline will interfere with tribal rights and negatively impact the climate. Supporters argue it will create jobs, while contributing to the nation’s energy supply.
The most immediate — if only temporary — resolution could come through the courts.
A three-judge Minnesota Court of Appeals panel questioned Enbridge and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday about whether there will be long-term demand for oil brought in by the pipeline. Two of the judges expressed doubt the company and PUC properly considered this aspect, according to the Duluth News Tribune.
The activists charge that PUC made a mistake in granting the project’s certificate because Enbridge failed to demonstrate the necessary demand for the oil.
The newspaper said Judges Lucinda Jesson and Peter Reyes Jr. challenged PUC attorney Jason Marisam on why the commission seemed to rely on available supply instead of the demand from refineries through 2035.
"You're talking past history," Reyes said. "So if I hear what you're saying by omission is that there is no forecast demand data with respect to refineries."
The Hill noted an administrative law judge found the replacement pipeline could add the equivalent of 193 million more tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when compared with the existing Line 3, a calculation that alarms climate activists.
"Our way of life is entirely dependent on this water and this wild rice and this land," said Winona LaDuke, head of the environmental group Honor the Earth and member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.
Protests against the pipeline have swelled at times to several hundred people, including actress Jane Fonda, according to The Hill. Some activists have chained themselves to a piece of the pipeline.
"It’s a $9 billion project because a bunch of people chain themselves to equipment and a bunch of us stood out there," LaDuke said. "By this summer, there will just be more in numbers."
More than 350 pipeline critics wrote to Biden earlier this month and urged him to immediately reevaluate and suspend or revoke the Army Corps permit.
Asked about Line 3, a White House spokesperson told The Hill the Biden administration will evaluate infrastructure proposals based on energy needs, if the projects will help the country reach a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and if the plan is likely to create union jobs.
The spokesperson didn't directly address the Line 3 project.
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