MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Two Ojibwe bands have filed a motion asking Minnesota state regulators to halt the impending construction to replace Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 pipeline, a move that would leave open the possibility that the project could yet be shut down by the courts.
Attorneys for the Red Lake band of Chippewa and White Earth band of Ojibwe filed a 60-page motion Wednesday asking for a stay of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s permit approving the oil pipeline project to move forward. The independent regulatory panel signed off on the project earlier this week, the day after the final federal permit for the project was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
As it stands, only a single storm water permit is needed from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency before construction can begin. A decision on the final permit is expected soon.
The motion filed by the bands argues that the stay is necessary to that legal process can be protected, as there are several appeals concerning the pipeline currently before the state’s appellate court. The appellate court must be able to rule before construction begins, the bands say, otherwise any new appeals by tribes or others will be moot. According to the motion, the appellate court isn’t likely to make a decision on the pipeline until well into next week.
Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 begins in Alberta, Canada, slices through the corner of North Dakota and cuts across northern Minnesota to a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The company says it wants to replace the Minnesota section, which was built in the 1960s, because it increasingly needs maintenance and can no longer operate at its original capacity. The segments of the line in Canada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin have already been replaced.
The tribes and other opponents of the project say that oil spills threaten the waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice. They also argue that the Canadian tar sands oil the pipeline carries exacerbates climate change. The motion filed by the two tribes also said that the pipeline could put the Native Americans living along the construction route at risk of COVID-19 if construction were to begin soon as the pandemic rages.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)