The Potluck

‘The Squad’ visits Minnesota for Line 3 trip

By: - September 3, 2021 3:31 pm

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Missouri, speaks during a press conference in Minneapolis on Sept. 3, 2021 about Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts; Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan; and state Sen. Mary Kunesh, DFL-New Brighton also spoke. Photo by Rilyn Eischens/Minnesota Reformer

U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib traveled to Minneapolis Friday before embarking on a trip to northern Minnesota in opposition to Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline.

The four members of The Squad, as the group of progressive, early career Democrats are known, and state Sen. Mary Kunesh, DFL-New Brighton, called on President Joe Biden to revoke a key permit for the project. Enbridge says the 337-mile pipeline is nearly complete and scheduled to carry oil by the end of the year.

“Joe Biden promised to be the climate president, and this is his opportunity to follow through,” Omar said. “We’re encouraged by Biden’s boldness so far, including rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. Now we have another chance to reject this pipeline.”

Standing along the Mississippi River at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis, the lawmakers cited concerns about climate change, potential spills and Indigenous people’s treaty rights to the lands and waters through which Line 3 passes.

“We know that climate change doesn’t stop at any border of a state, or reservation or city,” said Bush, who represents St. Louis, Missouri. “It impacts all of us. It impacts us directly, and right now. And it will impact our children’s children even more if we’re not doing the work right now.”

Tlaib, of Detroit, said she doesn’t trust Enbridge after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revoked an easement for its Line 5 in November 2020, and the company refused to shut down the pipeline. Months later, it’s still operating.

Enbridge says Michigan’s government “lacks the authority” to revoke the easement.

“This is the time,” said Kunesh, who is of Standing Rock Lakota descent. “There is no time left to shut this pipeline down.”

Following six years of review, permitting and litigation, and nearly a year of construction, pipeline opponents have been hopeful Biden would block the project before it reaches completion. Biden’s administration, however, has signaled support for the project in federal court filings.

On Monday, pipeline opponents were dealt another blow by the state Court of Appeals, which affirmed a state agency’s decision to issue a water quality permit for the project. It was the second appeals court decision upholding Line 3 permits this year.

Also on Monday, the lawmakers and nearly 60 other state and federal elected officials signed a letter to Biden imploring him to halt construction. It sparked backlash from Minnesota Republicans and labor union leaders, who said it was unfairly critical of pipeline workers.

The group will travel to the pipeline route in northern Minnesota over the weekend. 

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.