May 26, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden,
With renewed urgency, as melting ice has left pristine waters perilously unprotected, we are following up our March 8th letter — signed by 370 organizations across the country — to again implore you to take swift action to revoke the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline permit and put a stop to this dramatic undermining of your immediate priorities. As you know, Line 3 poses a significant threat to water, Indigenous rights, and our global climate, and its rushed construction in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is delivering quantifiable danger to Minnesotan communities and energy workers alike. Worldwide, more than 8 million people died from fossil fuel pollution in 2018 alone — nearly 1 out of 5 total global deaths, and COVID-19 comorbidities were well established in 2020.
Due to the urgency of the climate crisis and the fact that Indigenous leaders have not consented to the Line 3 project, large-scale, non-violent civil disobedience is now being organized for early June along the Line 3 pipeline route. This decision was not made lightly by organizers, especially after witnessing the violent, militarized police response to water protectors at Standing Rock. Yet, due to countless unanswered calls from Indigenous leaders and other experts to halt Line 3 construction, revoke or suspend the 404 permit, or respect Indigenous rights and Treaties, escalation on the ground is now underway. Concerned citizens of all kinds are traveling from across the nation, heeding the call of Indigenous leaders. We are deeply concerned for peoples’ safety and health. None of us want further harms or mass arrests for communities on the ground protecting water, the global climate, and Indigenous lands.
The situation calls for Presidential action.
We urge you to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately reevaluate and suspend or revoke Enbridge’s Line 3 Clean Water Act Section 404 permit. The Army Corps failed to consider significant information on Line 3’s impacts in reaching its original determination, including the risks of oil spills, climate change effects, and consequences to Indigenous peoples. The Army Corps also refused to prepare a federal Environmental Impact Statement for Line 3, despite overwhelming evidence that the project would have significant impacts.
As you indicated in your Day One Executive Order, “the United States must [...] exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”
The same logic applies to Line 3, and all federal fossil fuel infrastructure permits, which would undermine your objectives by locking in fossil fuel dependence for decades to come.
Climate scientists warn that we must keep the vast majority of known fossil fuels reserves in the ground and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions before 2030 to achieve international climate goals. Accordingly, your administration cannot afford to continue approving fossil fuel infrastructure permits. Doing so prolongs the use of fossil fuels and encourages unwise investment. Analysis has shown that building Line 3 would unlock the emissions equivalent to building 50 coal plants, costing society more than $287 billion in climate impacts in just its first 30 years of operation. Adding such fuel to the fire in the midst of our climate crisis is unacceptable.
Your unprecedented goals for climate action, for Federal respect of Tribal sovereignty, for environmental justice, and for science all demand you revoke or amend the Line 3 presidential permit, as you did for Keystone XL (KXL). Your rejection of the KXL permit strongly signaled that the Biden administration will deliver a historic break from the reckless fossil fuel giveaways of the Trump administration. Line 3 would be the same diameter as KXL, would carry the same heavy tar sands oil through the Midwest, and was also inappropriately permitted by the Trump administration. Canceling the Line 3 permit is consistent with canceling the KXL permit and is foundational to fulfilling your transformative, intersectional promises.
The Battle for the Soul of the Nation is on full display in Minnesota. In the state’s largest public comment period on Line 3, 94% of the comments submitted opposed construction of the pipeline. Since 2014, thousands of Minnesotans have participated in hearings, made calls, written letters, and organized in their communities to oppose Enbridge’s Line 3. Hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country, from all walks of life, have joined them in opposing the project. Line 3 is a clear danger to climate, water, and land, and undermines the Indigenous rights and cultural foundations of the Anishinaabe people.
Enbridge’s new “replacement” route crosses the 1854 and 1855 treaty territory where Anishinaabe people retain the right to hunt, fish, gather medicines, and harvest wild rice. The impact of construction — or worse, an oil spill — would permanently damage their ability to exercise these rights. Three Tribal governments and hundreds of Anishinaabe and Dakota community members in Minnesota are actively opposing this pipeline. Building Line 3 would carry on a legacy of state- and U.S. government-sanctioned oppression, directly contradicting your important promises to strengthen Nation-to-Nation relationships with Tribal Nations and Indigenous peoples.
The new Line 3 route crosses 227 lakes and rivers, including the headwaters of the Mississippi River and rivers that feed directly into Lake Superior, putting all those waterways at imminent risk of a spill from the 760,000 barrels of tar sands oil that would flow daily. Tar sands oil sinks in water, making it nearly impossible to clean up from wetland areas. A spill could destroy prize fishing lakes and sacred wild rice beds, and gut the local economy.
Enbridge’s negligent 2010 spill of over 1 million gallons of tar sands oil from its aging Line 6B into the Kalamazoo River demonstrated the immensity of this threat, with a cleanup cost of over $1.2 billion. Enbridge’s newer pipelines are no safer than its old ones. Since 2002, the company’s pipelines have had 73 spills due to equipment installed less than 10 years prior. Enbridge has shown it cannot be trusted to protect precious bodies of water like the Mississippi River.
Moreover, according to the state of Minnesota’s own analysis, Enbridge failed to demonstrate Line 3 is needed, and did not provide a legally required oil demand forecast — a part of the process that is even more critical in a world of rapidly changing oil markets and climate policy. The Minnesota Department of Commerce recommended Line 3 be denied approval, and the judge responsible for presiding over the case issued a legal recommendation that Enbridge’s proposal did not meet the standards set by state law.
Your Administration’s announcements on protecting our nation’s lakes and rivers, cleaning up aging and retired fossil fuel infrastructure currently polluting delicate environments, and building a clean energy economy powered by good, union jobs have set the vision and direction for the United States and the world—with Glasgow on the horizon. Together this mandate comes the inseparable and urgent need to stop fossil fuel companies from further entrenching the fatal fossil fuel era with dangerous projects like Line 3, which threaten to hamper your goals for decades into the future. To successfully and authentically Build Back Better, your Administration must promptly revoke the Line 3 permit.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Thomas Pogge, Co-Founder, Academics Stand Against Poverty
Erika Thi Patterson, Campaign Director, Climate and Environmental Justice, Action Center on Race and the Economy
Kyle Crider, Program and Policy Director, Alabama Interfaith Power & Light
Jessica Azulay, Executive Director, Alliance for a Green Economy
Maayan Cohen, National Campaigns Director, Alliance for Climate Education (ACE)
Katie Huffling, Executive Director, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director, Amazon Watch
Lauren Windsor, Executive Director, American Family Voices
Sarah Stewart, President, Animals Are Sentient Beings, Inc.
Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., Founder, Animas Valley Institute
Harriet Festing, Executive Director, Anthropocene Alliance
Ms.Thea Ormerod, President, ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change)
Meghan Fay Zahniser, Executive Director, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
Marsela Pecanac, Founder, Atelier for Community Transformation
Keith Olstad, Chair, Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis
David Krantz, President, Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
Carlos Ochoa, National Policy Associate, Azul
Alice Hu, Co-Director, Bank.Green
Evelyn Austin, Project Manager, Banking on a Better Future
Karen Feridun, Founder, Berks Gas Truth
Karen Feridun, Co-Founder, Better Path Coalition
Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear
Justin Green, Executive Director, Big Reuse
Alexey Zimenko, Director General, Biodiversity Conservation Center
Bishop Marcia Dinkins, Executive Director, Blaque Women Rising
Jane Kleeb, Founder, Bold Alliance
Bhikkhu Bodhi, Chair, Buddhist Global Relief
Marie Venner, Co-Chair, Businesses for a Livable Climate
Chris Calwell, Co-Chair, CA Businesses for a Livable Climate
Igor Tregub, Chair, California Democratic Party Environmental Caucus
Marie Venner, Co-Chair, Call to Action Colorado
Stefanie Klass, Co-Chair, CatholicNetwork US
Wes Gillingham, Associate Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper
David Kyler, Co-Director, Center for a Sustainable Coast
Kierán Suckling, Executive Director, Center for Biological Diversity
Nikki Reisch, Director, Climate & Energy Program, Center for International Environmental Law
Jina Penn-Tracy, Founder & Co-Owner, Centered Wealth
Paul Kaufman, Co-Chairman, Central Bergen Circle of GreenFaith
Kevin Hamilton, CEO, Central California Asthma Collaborative
Corey E. Olsen, Owner/Activist, CEO Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm
Lisabeth Ryder, Co-Chair, CERBAT INC
John A. Wagner, Chatham Research Group
Mary Smith, Communications Director, Church Women United in New York State
Deb Katz, Executive Director, Citizens Awareness Network
Paul V. Ferrazzi, Executive Director, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community
Alison Burchell, Co-Founder, Clean Energy Action
Deanna White, State Director, Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund of Minnesota
Jen Stevenson Zepeda, Associate Director, Climable, Inc.
Marty Nathan, Steering Committee Member, Climate Action Now Western Mass
Emaeyak Eyibio, Program Officer, Climate Change Network Nigeria
Regina LaRocque, MD MPH, Leadership Team, Climate Code Blue
Alexander Marquardt, Co-Founder & Staff Attorney, Climate Defense Project
Marla Marcum, Co-Founder & Director, Climate Disobedience Center
Liz Beall, Executive Director, Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas
Nicole Rom, Executive Director, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy
RL Miller, President, Climate Hawks Vote
Donald M. Goldberg, Executive Director, Climate Law & Policy Project
Harriet Shugarman, Executive Director, ClimateMama
Joseph Wilson, Co-Coordinator, Coalition for Outreach, Policy, and Education
Paula Rogovin, Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains
Jodie Evans, Co-Founder, CODEPINK
Marie Venner, Co-Chair, Colorado Small Business Coalition
Rose Ann Witt, Co-Founder, Conejo Climate Coalition
Moana Bjur, Executive Director, Conservation Council For Hawaii
Patricia S Warner, Corvallis Climate Action Alliance
Brian Lee, Corvallis Interfaith Climate Justice Committee
Kate Watters, Executive Director, Crude Accountability
Peg Furshong, Director of Programs, CURE (Clean Up the River Environment)
Ntebo Mokuena, Campaign Manager, Daily Kos
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder & CEO, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action
Mike Bucci, Projects Coordinator, Deep Green Resistance
Loti Simmons, Co-Founder, Defenders of Somi Se’k
Shweta Arya, Outreach Director, Delaware Interfaith Power and Light
Veda Kanitz, Chair, DFL Environmental Caucus
Rachel Schlueter, Senior Organizer, Divest Ed
Stephen Brittle, President, Don't Waste Arizona
Anne D Burt, Founder and Coordinator, Down to Earth Storytelling
Kellie Berns, Program Director, Earth Guardians
LeeAnne Beres, Executive Director, Earth Ministry
Kathleen Rogers, President, EARTHDAY.ORG
Ka Hsaw Wa, Executive Director, EarthRights International
Dan Brook, Founder, Eco-Eating
Colleen Boland, Co-Founder, Elmirans & Friends Against Fracking
Alison Burchell, Co-Founder, Empower our Future
Dan Silver, Executive Director, Endangered Habitats League
Tara Thornton, Deputy Director, Endangered Species Coalition
Stephane Pouffary, Chief Executive Officer, ENERGIES 2050
Gordon MacAlpine, Convenor, Estes Valley Clean Energy Coalition
Jamal Raad, Executive Director, Evergreen Action
Susan Lemont, Media and Messaging Coordinator, Extinction Rebellion Massachusetts
Renate Heurich, Outreach Coordinator, Extinction Rebellion New Orleans
Leah Redwood, Action Coordinator, Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area
Carol Bardoff, Co-Coordinator, First Wednesdays San Leandro
Elizabeth Gilbert, Climate & Environmental Justice Coordinator, Florida Student Power Network
Thomas Meyer, National Organizing Manager, Food & Water Watch
Miriam Eide, Coordinating Director, Fossil Free California
Sara Hess, Chairperson, Fossil Free Tompkins
Joseph Winters, Social Media Coordinator, Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard
Randy Hayes, Executive Director, Foundation Earth
Mary Shesgreen, Chair, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice
Brook Lenker, Executive Director, FracTracker Alliance
Jason Miller, Director of Campaigns and Development, Franciscan Action Network
Katharina Maier, Organizer, Fridays for Future USA
Chad Oba, President, Friends of Buckingham
Doug Wellman, President, Friends of Nelson
Nicole Ghio, Senior Fossil Fuels Program Manager, Friends of the Earth
Joseph Campbell, President, Gas Free Seneca
Codi Norred, Executive Director, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light
Tara Houska, Founder, Giniw Collective
Fred Akers, Administrator, Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association
Fran Teplitz, Executive Co-Director, Green America
Mike Carberry, Founding Director, Green State Solutions