Last week President Joe Biden announced he is revoking federal permits for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would have stretched from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska and to the Gulf of Mexico, carrying 830,000 barrels of the dirtiest type of oil per day.
By prioritizing this urgent climate action in his first days in office, the president is standing by his commitment to transition the United States away from fossil fuels and honor treaty rights across the country. This is a great step forward for our climate and for environmental justice.
But the work doesn't stop with Keystone. In Minnesota, the Canadian oil giant Enbridge Energy is relentlessly pushing forward the Line 3 tar sands pipeline to expand fossil fuel infrastructure despite the worsening climate crisis and a global pandemic. As with Keystone, Biden has the authority to stop the construction of Line 3 by directing the Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the project's water crossing permit.
Last month we were among the 15 legislators who had the privilege to travel to a site north of Palisade, Minn., where Line 3 is being built. We knew it was important to make informed opinions about the project and its impacts and take back what we learned to the Capitol. We spoke with Indigenous leaders, water protectors and peaceful demonstrators. We visited a prayer lodge erected near where Enbridge intends to drill under the Mississippi River. And we listened.
There are many reasons to be concerned about Line 3, which would carry 760,000 barrels of tar sands oil each day from the Alberta tar sands to Superior, Wis., cutting across Minnesota tribal lands and endangering the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
Allowing the Line 3 pipeline to move forward, despite years of opposition from Native communities, is nothing short of a betrayal of treaty rights and an assault on Indigenous sovereignty. The pipeline threatens tribal lands, watersheds and precious natural resources like wild rice fields.
Climate research tells us we have 10 years to transition to a clean energy economy if we want a livable planet for ourselves and future generations. Yet Line 3 is an entirely new corridor that would double the Enbridge pipeline capacity in Minnesota and cost $287 billion in climate change-related damage over 30 years. It would contribute the equivalent of 50 coal plants worth of carbon into the atmosphere, and its carbon footprint would exceed that of the entire state. Line 3 is a climate catastrophe that's an affront to Minnesotans in every corner of the state who care about protecting our climate for future generations.
Climate change impacts our health and safety, and addressing the climate crisis is a public health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the negative health impacts include respiratory and cardiovascular disease, deaths due to extreme weather events, and the prevalence of illnesses and infectious diseases.
Another major concern is that Line 3 will deepen the systemic racial and social inequities associated with the climate crisis. Communities of color and lower income households are underrepresented in these decisionmaking processes while they disproportionately suffer the consequences of climate change. As the ACLU wrote to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: "Significant concerns regarding the environmental racism inherent in the [Line 3] proposal have not been fully addressed."
In weighing whether to allow construction to begin, Gov. Tim Walz missed the opportunity to reaffirm Minnesota as a leader in protecting our environment. The governor and many other state elected officials acknowledge that climate change is an existential threat that demands immediate action. Knowing that, it defies common sense to allow a foreign oil company to build massive new fossil fuel infrastructure in the middle of the crisis.
We are among the millions of Minnesotans who support an urgent transition toward safe, sustainable and secure energy sources. The truth is that no one who claims to be a leader on climate could ever support the construction of Line 3. By taking swift action, as he did with Keystone, Biden can provide the leadership Minnesota needs to protect the environment and stop an impending climate catastrophe.
Heather Keeler, DFL-Moorhead, is a member of the Minnesota House. Jen McEwen, DFL-Duluth, and Mary Kunesh, DFL-New Brighton, are members of the Minnesota Senate. This article was also submitted on behalf of Sens. Lindsey Port, Burnsville, and John Marty, Roseville; and Reps. Liz Boldon, Rochester; Cedrick Frazier, New Hope; Jess Hanson, Burnsville; Aisha Gomez, Minneapolis; Jim Davnie, Minneapolis; Athena Hollins, St. Paul; and Sydney Jordan, Minneapolis. All are DFLers.