White Earth RBC Continues to Stand Against the Line 3 Construction Project
June 25, 2021
White Earth, Minnesota – As the people of the White Earth Reservation gathered today in a walk/run, ceremony and feast to protect our water and manoomin, the White Earth Reservation Business Committee continues to stand strong in opposition to the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project through our 1855 Treaty territory.
Last week, word came through concerned Band members about water being taken from Upper Rice Lake. While this taking of water was not by Enbridge and was for a local road construction project, it raised serious concerns about how State and Federal authorities are handling the issue of water displacement during a moderate drought. The RBC took immediate action to meet with decisionmakers in the Army Corps of Engineering and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
On Monday, June 21, 2021, leaders from White Earth and Red Lake consulted with Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jaime Pinkham and others to discuss concerns relating to the Army Corps of Engineers' permit issued to Enbridge for the construction of Line 3. The RBC brought forward violations regarding the consultation process before the permit was issued, as well as numerous concerns about the replacement project since construction commenced pursuant to the permit. The RBC again requested the Army Corps rescind or suspend their permit and asked that the Biden Administration stand by its pledge to Indian Country and our environment by stopping this construction project. Conversations with the Army Corps are on-going and White Earth and others remain in federal litigation against the Army Corps regarding the permit. The RBC will continue to do everything in its power to get the federal permit suspended or rescinded.
On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, White Earth leaders requested action from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Tribal Executive Committee regarding the construction dewatering permit amendment issued by the Minnesota DNR on June 4, 2021. This dewatering permit allows Enbridge to displace up to almost 5 billion gallons of water during its construction project. Last year, the DNR issued a permit that allowed Enbridge to displace approximately 500 million gallons of water. While surface water is not being displaced through this permit, allowing the displacement of such a substantial amount of groundwater in and around the Mississippi headwaters watershed and under so many of our traditional wild rice beds is extremely alarming. The Tribal Executive Committee authorized a letter to Governor Tim Walz requesting that this permit amendment be suspended or rescinded.
The DNR did not engage in meaningful government-to-government consultation with the White Earth Reservation or its leadership prior to issuing its permit amendment on June 4, and the RBC immediately reached out to DNR Commissioner Strommen to raise its objection to the permit. The RBC will be meeting with Commissioner Strommen and MN DNR leadership, along with staff from Governor Walz's office, on Friday, June 25, 2021 to formally request that the permit amendment be rescinded.
The RBC is also addressing the issue of tribally approved cultural monitors along the construction route. The only cultural monitors reviewing the construction project to date have been approved by Enbridge, and the RBC will consider a proposal to expand its Tribal Historic Preservation Office functions at the regular RBC meeting on Friday, June 25, 2021. This expansion will include White Earth approved cultural monitors to ensure that historically and culturally significant sites and resources along the construction route remain undisturbed.
The White Earth RBC is united in seeing the Line 3 Replacement Project halted before any further degradation to our environment can take place. The RBC stands in solidarity with our people in protecting our water and will continue to utilize every means available to stop this project from moving forward.
The RBC wishes to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of so many of our Band members in protecting our natural resources. Chi miigwech to our pipe carriers, the organizers and volunteers on the run and walk today and for coming together to stand strong for our water and manoomin.