Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline Challenged in Court: Youth, Environmentalists, Indigenous Rights Advocates sue to block Enbridge pipeline

SAINT PAUL, MN -- Today, opponents of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline filed multiple lawsuits with the Court of Appeals challenging the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approval of the project. On June 28, the PUC approved Enbridge’s proposal to build a new Line 3 pipeline, which would run through Northern Minnesota and double the amount of oil running through the pipeline. The window to file an appeal opened on November 21, following the PUC doubling down on its decision by rejecting requests from intervenors to reconsider issuing the permits for the pipeline.
Appeals were filed December 19th, 2018 by Honor the Earth, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Headwaters, Red Lake Band, and White Earth Band. The Youth Climate Intervenors plan to file their own appeal by the end of the week.
Friends of the Headwaters (FOH), an all-volunteer group from northern Minnesota, won the appeals case in 2015 that resulted in an Environmental Impact Statement being prepared for Line 3, precipitating the cancellation of Enbridge’s Sandpiper pipeline. FOH contends that the PUC should have heeded the recommendations of the Administrative Law Judge and Minnesota’s lead environmental agencies.
“Even the Department of Commerce determined that Enbridge’s Line 3 was unnecessary,” said Richard Smith, President of Friends of the Headwaters. “The Department of Commerce was the agency the PUC relied on to examine the Enbridge application in depth, and the DOC said a new Line 3 was not needed. But the PUC put the interests of the Canadian tar sands industry ahead of the interests of Minnesota citizens and the preservation of our environment. We can’t just let that stand. The PUC’s decision was contrary to the law, and we are confident that is what the Court of Appeals will conclude.”
A joint appeal was filed by Honor the Earth, the Red Lake Band, the White Earth Band, and the Sierra Club. They argue that Enbridge’s application is insufficient because the company never submitted the required oil demand forecast, ignoring current trends toward climate policy and electric vehicle adoption that could reduce the future need for the pipeline.
 “Honor the Earth is appealing this decision because it is a rogue decision.- There is no need for this pipeline as the world reduces oil consumption in the face of increasing climate change,” said Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth.  “The certificate of need was issued based on bad math and puts Minnesotans into a very dangerous situation in terms of liability. Now the ‘need’ is for a transition away from fossil fuels.”   
"If the PUC had done an adequate review of Line 3, it would have been clear that this pipeline is not needed and that the risks to our water, communities, and climate far outweigh any possible benefit," said Margaret Levin, State Director for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. "Minnesotans deserve better than Enbridge's dirty tar sands pipeline, and today we continue the fight to ensure that it is never built."
The Youth Climate Intervenors are a unique group of 13 young people under 25 who have represented themselves in the legal process for the last year and a half, bringing in climate scientists and Indigenous elders to make the case that Line 3 would threaten their future by increasing production of tar sands, the dirtiest and most climate-polluting fuel source on the planet. They are now being represented by student attorneys with University of Minnesota’s Environmental and Energy Law Clinic to bring their case to the Court of Appeals.
“For over 500 years we have been fighting for our land and people, and the bottom line is that our futures are at stake with this pipeline,” said Nina Berglund, a 19 year-old Northern Cheyenne and Oglala Lakota woman and member of the Youth Climate Intervenors. “We refuse to accept defeat at the hands of these greedy corporations and we will never stop fighting.”
Other groups may file additional appeals before the Friday, December 21 deadline for legal challenges to the Certificate of Need granted by the Public Utilities Commission. Enbridge has stated that they hope to have all the permits necessary to begin construction by early 2019.

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