By Sam Rosenthal

Late last week, progressive senators and House members sent a letter to President Biden urging his administration to suspend permits allowing the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline to continue. 

The pipeline, which was originally granted permits by the Trump administration, has been beset by criticism from environmental and indigenous activists over its likely environmental damage, disingenuous representations of its work, and near total lack of engagement with local indigenous communities.

Increased Police Violence

In recent weeks, mounting protests have been met with increased police violence, as protestors have been subjected to tear gas, rubber bullets, beatings, and arrests. The violence had reached such a crescendo in recent weeks, in fact, that activists successfully secured a meeting with a United Nations rapporteur who investigates human rights violations. 

All of this has generated increased attention and criticism from powerful quarters of the progressive political world, culminating in the letter which was sent to the administration last week. In a follow-up email to supporters today, Rep. Pramila Jayapal cited several reasons for progressive lawmakers’ opposition to the Line 3 pipeline. 

“Local indigenous tribes have outright opposed this oil pipeline. It would destroy their land, food sources, and water,” she wrote. Jayapal also pointed out that tacit support for Line 3 would effectively violate the campaign promises Biden made to fight climate change: “Pumping more fossil fuels through more pipelines is NOT part of an environmentally sound policy.” 

Day of Action Being Organized

Whether pressure from activists and electeds will move the Biden administration remains to be seen. The pipeline is nearly complete, with activists gearing up for a last stand day of action on August 25th, and with hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to both parties over the last several campaign cycles, Enbridge is well positioned to apply leverage of its own. One thing is certain though: without the activism of water protectors, this pipeline, and many others like it, would be constructed without resistance. 

If the proliferation of these environmental catastrophes is to be halted in the future, it will be because of our support for these activists.