Members of the so-called far-left “Squad” in Congress ripped President Joe Biden over his silence regarding the construction of a replacement oil pipeline in Minnesota that they say environmentally threatens Native American lands.
Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan met with Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and indigenous leaders on Saturday to speak out against the Line 3 pipeline, which is nearly finished, as well as Biden’s silence on the issue.
“I think it’s really important that President Biden understands that this decision around being silent is devastating these communities,” said Tlaib during a press conference, according to a video clip posted by The Hill.
Rep. @RashidaTlaib on Minnesota oil pipeline: "I think it's really important that President Biden understands that this decision around being silent is devastating these communities." pic.twitter.com/wNcgjmYzQS
— The Hill (@thehill) September 4, 2021
The pipeline is being built to replace one that is five decades old that is operated by Alberta, Canada-based energy firm Enbridge.
Critics of the project say that the natural gas pipeline is slated to run through lands that are protected by a treaty between the United States and the Ojibwe nations.
Last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by indigenous tribes and environmentalists opposed to the project, leaving in place a lower court ruling allowing the pipeline to proceed, according to Fox Business Network.
“We’re pleased with the decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court regarding Line 3’s Certificate of Need, Route Permit and Environmental Impact Statement which have been reaffirmed multiple times by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and this June by the Minnesota Court of Appeals,” an Enbridge spokesperson told the network after the ruling. “The most studied pipeline project in Minnesota history has cleared yet another hurdle.”
But that hasn’t deterred the pipeline’s opponents.
“We are here to be more than allies. We are here to be intentional accomplices and co-conspirators in the work of justice,” Pressley told gathered supporters Saturday.
On his first day in office, Biden canceled another Canadian-based pipeline, the Keystone XL, after his predecessor, President Donald Trump, green-lighted the project. It, too, had been litigated for more than a decade; President Barack Obama had issued an executive order barring the project from continuing as well when Biden was his vice president.
But so far, at least, he hasn’t said anything about the Line 3 project.
Squad members also picked up on additional complaints about the pipeline from environmental groups that claim it will harm the president’s stated climate change agenda.
“The state of Minnesota simply cannot meet our carbon reduction targets if this pipeline goes through,” Omar claimed during a previous event on Friday.
According to local outlet KSTP, Omar went on to say that the pipeline “largely threatens places that are put out of sight and out of mind for most Americans: The prairies, the wild rice wetlands, the Mississippi tributaries, and the treaty lands of Indigenous peoples.”
But at the Friday event, supporters also spoke out, including union officials who represent workers involved in the project.
“We have the opportunity today to stand up for energy independence, good-paying jobs, a pipeline that needed to be replaced, was replaced, that’s close to 90% completed, and will benefit, will have an economic benefit, for those communities for years to come,” U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, a Minnesota Republican, said.
He noted further that a reported “5,000 skilled union workers are working this project.”
Jason George, leader of the International Operating Engineers Local 49, took offense to a letter state Democrats and members of Congress sent to Biden last week focusing on environmental concerns as well as “the influx of temporary residents in the region has exacerbated the concerns of violence and health threats to local communities…”
“My first reaction to it was disgust,” George said.
“The portrayal of workers in that letter, my members, Minnesotans, was shocking….I’ll be sending a personal request to all of them who put their name on that letter to come to my union hall and educate themselves about pipelines and about the workers who build this country because they’re woefully ignorant,” he added.
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