U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and other members of the House known as “the squad” are headed to northern Minnesota to highlight their opposition to the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil replacement pipeline and renew calls for President Joe Biden’s administration to halt construction on the nearly completed project.
Omar held a news conference in Minneapolis Friday with Democratic U.S. Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan before the group headed to northern Minnesota to meet with tribal officials and others.
Echoing the arguments of environmental and tribal activists, Omar said the pipeline violates tribal sovereignty and will exacerbate climate change.
"We want this issue to be elevated and for it to become important enough for the president to take action, as he has on [the] Keystone [XL Pipeline]," Omar told reporters.
At the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis, Bush, who represents St. Louis, said a spill could have ramifications far downstream.
"The water that flows from this point will carry whatever dirty fossil fuels it picks up right on down to my district," Bush said.
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Earlier Friday Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber held an event of his own with Republican legislators at the Minnesota Capitol to say the Line 3 pipeline is a valid project that benefits many construction workers and their families.
Stauber said he would fight any effort to stop the pipeline as it nears completion.
"Enbridge replacement of Line 3 is a good, safe project,” Stauber said. “It’s been vetted — one of the most vetted projects in this entire state. And it has been successfully defended in the courts.”
Republicans also released a letter from commissioners in DFL Gov. Tim Walz’s administration countering some assertions about the project in an earlier letter to the Biden administration signed by Omar, U.S. Rep Betty McCollum and other elected Democrats.
The project has employed more than 3,000 workers in northern Minnesota, and the 340-mile stretch that runs through Minnesota is set to be transporting oil from Canada’s Alberta province by the fourth quarter of this year.
Enbridge has argued that the existing Line 3, built in the 1960s, needed to be replaced because it is corroding and needs extensive maintenance, and to increase capacity.
This month, the Minnesota Supreme Court and the state court of appeals delivered opinions upholding state regulators' approval of the project. Other court challenges are still pending.
Correction (Sept. 4, 2021): State Sen. Mary Kunesh was misidentified in an earlier photo caption. The cutline has been updated.