Native Americans move to halt $2.9bn pipeline scheme over Covid

Two Native American communities in Minnesota have asked state regulators to stop construction of a $2.9bn crude oil pipeline to Canada on the grounds that the influx of workers will fuel the spread of Covid-19.

The Red Lake and White Earth Bands of Chippewa filed a motion on 25 November asking the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to stay its approval of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 pipeline replacement, which renews a 1960s pipeline that traverses 337 miles of Minnesota on its way from Superior, Wisconsin to the US border at Joliette, North Dakota. After that it travels north to Edmonton, Alberta.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that the bands and other pipeline opponents have sued and protested to try to block the project, and an appeal by the state Commerce Department is pending. 

They want the PUC to pause the project while their legal challenge plays out.

According to Enbridge, the PUC authorised construction of the pipeline on 24 November. The one remaining permit is a storm water permit which is provided by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.   

Enbridge says the replacement will get crude from Canadian tar sands to Midwest refineries more safely. The company says the two-year project will create 4,200 construction jobs and will generate millions of dollars in local spending and taxes.

Opponents say the project threatens spills in waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice, and oppose the greenhouse gas emissions generated by Canadian tar sands oil.

Image: Enbridge Energy’s map of its 1960s Line 3 pipeline

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