By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Opponents of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline are taking a new approach in court. They’ve filed a lawsuit on behalf of wild rice.

That’s to say wild rice is the lead plaintiff in a complaint filed Wednesday in White Earth Nation Tribal Court.

The lawsuit names the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources among the defendants. It says water permits allowing Enbridge to pump up to 5 billion gallons of groundwater will harm wild rice, especially during a drought.

One of the only “rights of nature” cases to be filed in the U.S., it also claims a violation of treaty rights.

The 337-mile Line 3 replacement crosses northern Minnesota from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. It’s about 60% complete and expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

The Minnesota DNR has said it is reviewing the lawsuit.