Lawsuit Seeks To Halt Canada-US Oil Pipeline Over Water Pollution Risk

13 Jan 2021 by The Water Diplomat
St Paul MN, United States

Last month, opponents of Canadian pipeline company Enbridge’s new $2.6bn Line 3 Canada-US oil pipeline replacement project have filed a lawsuit to halt construction following concerns from environmentalists and indigenous tribes.

The case made by the environmental groups is that the project, which commenced construction in December, will not only worsen the effects of climate change, but it will also put a new region of clean water at risk of pollution from potential oil spills.

Two environmental groups, along with two Ojibwe bands, have come together to sue the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for authorising the construction of the pipeline, claiming that they failed to consider environmental factors such as climate change and potential oil spills, as well as the project’s impact on tribal treaty rights.

The plaintiffs are the Sierra Club, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Honor the Earth and the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.

According to the state’s environmental impact assessment of the Line 3 project, the pipeline could have an annual carbon emission rate of 193 million tons, which will not help Minnesota achieve their goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in the next thirty years.

Enbridge claim that the replacement pipeline is a necessary safety requirement as the current Line 3 pipe is significantly corroded limiting oil flow. They said that the Line 3 construction - which is their largest project to date, employing more than 3,000 workers– is: “the best option for protecting the environment and communities while meeting the region's energy needs.”

Canadian indigenous groups are unhappy with the Line 3 project as the proposed pipeline route in Aitkin County corresponds with an Ojibwe ceremonial lodge that was discovered last month in a wooded area. The case made by the Ojibwe people is that the Line 3 project violates their treaty rights and freedom of religion.

Enbridge said that the Ojibwe tribes were consulted by the Army Corps before the permit was issued.

USACE is currently reviewing the suit and have yet to release an official statement.