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Line 3 Opponents Ramp Up Pressure on State, Federal Officials

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Canadian-based Enbridge Energy wants to replace its existing oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, extending from North Dakota on the west and into Wisconsin on the east. (Adobe Stock)
Canadian-based Enbridge Energy wants to replace its existing oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, extending from North Dakota on the west and into Wisconsin on the east. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN - Producer, Contact
March 1, 2021

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- As work continues on the Line 3 oil pipeline, its opponents are bolstering their efforts in hopes of blocking the line from ever operating.

The northern Minnesota project has drawn heavy opposition from tribal and environmental groups.

Last week, activists delivered more than 200,000 signatures to President Joe Biden, calling on him to intervene.

Tara Houska, tribal attorney and advocate for environmental and Indigenous rights, pointed out Biden has billed himself as a proactive leader in fighting climate change. She said he needs to live up to that reputation.

"If he's going to call himself that, then we need action," Houska asserted. "Not just the words. We need the action."

On his first day in office, Biden cancelled a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Line 3 opponents also are asking Gov. Tim Walz to pause construction while legal challenges play out.

Supporters of Line 3, including some labor unions, say it provides much-needed jobs to the region. The company behind the effort, Enbridge Energy, said its current line is too old and at risk of oil spills.

Houska and other opponents say they're fearful cancellation of the Keystone permit will prompt Enbridge to move faster on Line 3.

She noted the similarities between the two pipelines, as both were designed to carry oil from Canadian tar sands.

"Same risks, same climate impacts, same violations of treaty rights," Houska argued.

Amid the debate over Line 3, Indigenous activists have set up protest camps at various pointed along the construction route. Tribal officials say the pipeline would negatively affect natural resources they rely on, including wild rice beds.

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