Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Following Court Ruling, Advocates Call on Obama Administration to Block Enbridge's Alberta Clipper Tar Sands Scheme

 


In keeping with Keystone XL rejection and as new data highlights serious threat of tar sands, we're confident the Obama Administration will act to protect climate, water, and communities by stopping the Alberta Clipper expansion immediately

Minneapolis, MN – In a disappointing ruling by a federal judge in Minnesota, the court held this morning that, while not endorsing the scheme, it does not have authority to require the State Department to comply with federal environmental and historic preservation laws in the context of cross the border pipeline permitting decisions, and will not force State to reverse its approval of Enbridge’s scheme to nearly double the capacity of its Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline without environmental review.

"We are disappointed with the decision, which essentially says ‘the courts can’t help you,’” said lead attorney and Vermont Law School Professor Ken Rumelt. “We will be considering various options.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including White Earth Nation, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Indigenous Environmental Network, National Wildlife Federation, and Honor the Earth, are considering various legal options, including a possible appeal. But for now this ruling puts the responsibility back in the hands of the Obama Administration to recognize that allowing these projects to go forward without adequate review is inconsistent with the Administration’s goals on climate. At a time when global leaders are hard at work in Paris to negotiate a global deal to reduce carbon emissions, allowing expansion of the dirtiest fuel on the planet sends precisely the wrong message.

In addition to the climate impacts of allowing a major tar sands project to move forward, it is clear that this project poses a serious threat to water and communities in the Great Lakes region. Just yesterday, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a new study confirming that tar sands oil is significantly different from conventional crude and that it has different and more dangerous environmental impacts when it spills. Continuing to allow Enbridge to move forward with this scheme doubles the risk of a highly hazardous spill that the region is not prepared to deal with, which would threaten the health and safety of communities in the region for years to come.

“While we are disappointed with this ruling, the science has never been clearer that the risks of piping more heavy tar sands through the Great Lakes region poses unacceptable risks to wildlife and habitat areas,” said Jim Murphy, Senior Counsel at National Wildlife Federation. “The Administration should put a halt on this expansion and first take a promised hard look at the serious consequences from spills and carbon pollution that tar sands expansion will have on the natural treasures of this area.”

When President Obama rejected Keystone XL, he noted that the pipeline “would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy,” that it “would not lower gas prices for American consumers,” and that “shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security.” He also argued that “approving this project would have undercut [America’s] global leadership” on climate. For all these reasons, the State Department and the president determined that Keystone XL was not in the national interest. By the same logic, Alberta Clipper and the Enbridge Great Lakes pipeline system fail the test as well.

The Obama Administration has the power to protect public health, the climate, and the Great Lakes by stopping this expansion scheme until a full environmental review has been conducted, and environmental and Tribal activists will continue to fight to see that happen.

“Unfortunately the court ruled today that they do not have the authority to stop Enbridge’s scheme to bring more of the dirtiest fuel on the planet into our country. Luckily, President Obama does,” said Lena Moffitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “When President Obama rejected the Keystone XL proposal last month, he showed that the era of Big Oil is over. Now, just as he did with Keystone, President Obama can call for a full review of Enbridge’s plans and ultimately reject a pipeline expansion that would do irreparable harm to our climate, our environment, and our public health.”

“Rejecting Keystone XL sent shockwaves through the fossil fuel industry, and energized our movement like never before,” said Jason Kowalski, Policy Director at 350.org. “The era of building unopposed tar sands pipelines is clearly over. Now, project by project, leaders the world over have to pick a side: Will you stand with us or will you stand with the oil industry?”

“While the courts and the State Department sidestep their responsibility to protect our communities, Minnesotans are standing up and resisting Enbridge's schemes in ever-increasing numbers,” said Andy Pearson of MN350. “From 5,000 people marching in St. Paul this summer to last month's occupation of an Enbridge office in Duluth, the movement on the ground against this pipeline invasion is growing by the day. We're disappointed that the courts didn’t step in today, but will continue to fight this expansion and will not be deterred.”

“The federal government has allowed Enbridge to violate federal laws, but the federal courts don't feel they have jurisdiction to intervene,” added Winona Laduke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth. “It's baffling. Ojibwe tribes stand united in opposition to this pipeline invasion and we will continue our resistance until justice is served."

“As the Obama Administration recently made clear, the Keystone XL pipeline was not in our national interest. Here in the Great Lakes Region we have a far larger and ever-expanding pipeline corridor carrying the same Canadian tar sands through the largest fresh water system in the world, and putting landowners and local communities at risk. How could expanding this behemoth through such a critical region be any more in the national interest than the KXL?” asked Carl Whiting, of the Wisconsin Safe Energy (WiSE) Alliance. “The Obama Administration has recently shown real leadership on environmental issues, and so it is with clear expectations that we call on President Obama to maintain a consistent stance toward Canadian tar sands crossing our borders. We call on this administration to deny Enbridge's plan to thwart U.S. laws limiting the amount of this dangerous material entering our country.”

 

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