Joe Biden and the last tar sands pipeline

Joe Biden and the last tar sands pipeline
© Getty Images

Native Americans stood for then-candidate Joe Biden and we helped him get elected. Now it’s time for him to end what seems like an ongoing war against tribal nations.  

Our sacred rivers are drying, the Mississippi State Headwaters Forest is scorched, the skies are red and smokey, meanwhile, the United Nations (U.N.) has just issued a “code red for humanity.”

About 800 people have been arrested in northern Minnesota, and Enbridge, a Canadian energy company, has seven oil pipes in that region. The construction of these pipelines is threatening to burn our wild rice and to destroy our delicate wetlands as we speak. This is our land. We have no place to move.


President BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE needs to step up for democracy, for Native Americans and for Mother Earth. He needs to stop Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. It stands to impact the Anishinaabe people and others who live in the north of the state.  

Enbridge has almost completed the last tar sands pipeline. Tar sands are an industry on the decline, and it’s one of the dirtiest and most expensive fuels in the world. Much of the oil is heading right back to Canada through the old pipes at the Straits of Mackinac. Already, millions of gallons a day of oil are exported from the U.S. to countries like China — all of it adding more carbon to the atmosphere wherever it is burned. This is bad to the bone. 

The new Line 3 pipeline, if the company succeeds in pumping oil through it (legal judgments are still pending in the courts), is going to carry three times more oil than its predecessor. While called a replacement, it’s really a new line, torn through the heart of the Anishinaabe territory that was designated in the 1855 treaty, lands protected by the Supreme Court and by U.S. government agreements with our ancestors. Despite this protection, our rivers and rice face a potential threat by the construction of Enbridge Line 3.

If Biden values our democracy and truly wants to safeguard the environment, he will stop this madness. Over 68,000 people testified against this pipeline and less than 4,000 for it. Now Line 3 opponents — Water Protectors — are going to jail, including me

Moreover, in the state’s pact with a foreign corporation, Enbridge is now funding the police in northern Minnesota. The Northern Lights Task Force, as they’re named, has secured the arrests of over 700 American citizens and Native people, and it’s now using rubber bullets and tear gas against Water Protectors, incarcerating elderly women, journalists and hundreds of college students. 

The House passed legislation that would risk environmental injustices — like Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota — elsewhere. For the cost of a $150 permit application fee, Enbridge secured 5 billion gallons of water from dry rivers and sucked-down lakes in northern Minnesota during the largest drought in our history.  This is the single largest water allocation in the history of the state of Minnesota — and there was no hearing, nor environmental review on that appropriation. Just as there was no federal environmental impact statement for this project, only a grossly inadequate state review that was repeatedly challenged by citizens groups, tribal governments and the state’s own Department of Commerce

Biden failed us on Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), 28 percent of which is owned by Enbridge; in its last move, it succeeded in getting oil into that pipe, with a flawed federal environmental impact statement — and it ignored a federal court ordering DAPL to shut down. In the case of Line 3, we have had no federal environmental review — only a rubber stamp. 

For the Native people who rocked the vote for Biden and Vice President Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami A sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall MORE, who drove people hundreds of miles to the polls for them, we deserve better. It’s time to send the Canadians back to Alberta and their scorched-earth tar sand oil pits and take care of the home team.

Winona LaDuke is the co-founder and executive director of the Indigenous-led environmental justice non-profit, Honor the Earth. She is also an author, an activist, an economist and environmentalist, and a two-time former vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket. She lives on the White Earth reservation in Minnesota. She is the author of, "To be a Water Protector." Follow her on Twitter @WinonaLaduke.