Tlaib Statement on Eye-Opening Congressional Delegation to Minnesota’s Line 3

Sep 07, 2021

DETROIT—Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) released the following statement about her participation in a congressional delegation, which included Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Cori Bush (D-MO) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), over the weekend to the construction site of Minnesota’s Line 3 to discuss the impacts of the oil pipeline with Indigenous leaders: 

“This past weekend, I traveled to Minnesota with Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush to join Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and State Senator Mary Kunesh on a critically important Congressional delegation to bear witness to the unconscionable construction of the Line 3 pipeline. President Biden must take swift and decisive action to stop Line 3, protect Minnesota’s water and wild rice, and honor the treaties that Enbridge is destroying.

“I was called to go to Minnesota so that I could share our experiences with Enbridge here in Michigan, where this Canadian multi-national corporation is responsible for the worst inland oil spill in American history, and where they continue to defy our own Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s courageous action to shut down their Line 5 pipeline that poses a catastrophic risk to the entire Great Lakes region.

“Line 3 is a ticking time bomb that violates Indigenous treaty rights and is opposed by multiple Tribes, including the White Earth Nation, Red Lake Nation, and the Mille Lacs Band of Objibwe. It crosses more than 200 bodies of water, including the Mississippi River that 18 million people rely on for drinking water, and traverses 75 miles of wetlands. Enbridge has already spilled drilling chemicals at least 28 times during Line 3’s construction, as they irreparably damage the rivers and lakes that Indigenous people have relied on for millennia. This is unfortunately not surprising – Enbridge’s pipeline network has spilled 800 times in the last 15 years. What is surprising, though, is that this dangerous project, transporting the dirtiest fossil fuel on earth in tar sands, has not even received an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate its environmental risks and violations of treaty rights. There is no such thing as a safe pipeline.

“This was truly a trip I will never forget. We met with the most courageous, resilient, and wise Water Protectors and Indigenous leaders who shared their experiences – and scars – with us. It was horrifying to hear about the torture and violence that these Water Protectors have faced at the hands of the state, paid for by an Enbridge slush fund that rewards cops for shooting and abusing protestors. It was one of the great honors of my life to be invited into the Giniw Collective camp to share space with people like Tara Houska and Silas Neeland, a 13-year-old activist who has shown a powerful resistance far beyond his young years and incredibly inspiring to me. Giniw Collective’s direct action in shutting down pipeline construction is a model for us all about what effective climate action looks like, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude for their struggle.

“Every American should be aware of – and infuriated by – the extreme disregard for Indigenous treaty rights throughout the construction of Line 3. Article VI treaties are the supreme law of our land, and yet they have been trampled without so much as a second thought. I am grateful to the Tribal leaders and attorneys we met with for sharing their multifaceted and ingenious efforts to fight this ‘black snake’ in the courts, and for helping me understand how broken the state and federal processes for upholding Indigenous treaty rights are.

“Standing at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, where Dawn Goodwin and Nancy Beaulieu’s Fire Light Camp was able to stop construction of the pipeline for eight days this past June, was a powerful experience. In my own district, I have worked for years to get government at every level to recognize that water is a human right. Being in a place where the mighty Mississippi begins its journey through our country – and where Enbridge ‘frac outs’ have poisoned the water – fueled the fire inside of me to do so even more.

“My sisters in service and I have been joined by many other Members of Congress and State and Tribal leaders in sending letters to the Biden Administration opposing this project and calling for intervention, but to date President Biden has still not acted. If President Biden is to live up to his promise to be the Climate President, he must act today by using executive power to shut down Line 3. You cannot pretend to care about climate action while at the same time allowing the completion of a pipeline that transports dirty tar sands through sensitive habitats and that will exacerbate the climate crisis. President Biden has a duty to shut down Line 3 today, and we’re going to continue raising hell in solidarity with Water Protectors and Indigenous peoples until he does.

“Stopping Line 3 is a fight for every American and for the soul of America. It is a fight for racial and environmental and social justice. It is a fight for the future of the planet, for the restoration of balance in our ecosystems. It is a fight for our lives.”

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