Walz Administration Ignores Line 3 Threat to Clean Water, Climate, and Communities

MPCA approves water crossing permit for the pipeline despite risks to waterways, wetlands, Tribes

Gabby Brown, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org, 914-261-4626

St. Paul, MN -- Today, ignoring evidence about the serious threat Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline would pose to Minnesota’s clean water, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Laura Bishop approved a water crossing permit allowing the pipeline to be constructed through hundreds of Minnesota waterways. The project still faces multiple legal challenges, including an appeal by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which maintains that the pipeline is illegal and unnecessary.

If built, Line 3 would cross more than 200 bodies of water, including lakes, wetlands, and rivers, endangering freshwater resources and the pristine lake country of northern Minnesota where Native Americans harvest wild rice and hold treaty rights. Building Line 3 would also significantly increase Minnesota’s climate emissions, adding the equivalent of 50 new coal-fired power plants or 38 million cars and threatening to cancel out progress made by the Walz administration’s steps forward on climate. 

“The science is clear that Line 3 would threaten Minnesota’s clean water and set back our state’s progress on climate at a time when we can least afford it. Granting Enbridge the permits to build this tar sands pipeline through our state defies the science and defies the law. This decision is completely out of step with the Walz administration’s stated goals of protecting our environment and tackling the climate crisis,” said Sierra Club North Star Chapter Director Margaret Levin. “This fight isn’t over. We will not allow this reckless decision to go unchallenged.” 

“The MNPCA has clearly avoided a hard scientific look at the cumulative impacts from Line 3 on 212 stream crossings and thousands of acres of wetland crossings, and water quality,” added Winona LaDuke, co-founder and Executive DIrector of Honor the Earth. “They have chosen to ignore the downstream effects of oil spills, and the implications of climate change. And they have moved irresponsibly on approving these permits at a time when Covd-19 is spreading rapidly in northern communities like it is statewide. The pandemic threatens the safety of Native and non-native people alike, including Enbridge workers already working on the line. In short, this is a failure of prudent environmental governance and a lack of vision on a sound energy policy for the future.”

"Governor Walz has apparently decided that if Washington won't lead on climate, Minnesota won't either," said Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator at MN350. "Make no mistake: this decision is a sharp escalation against water protectors and climate science. Line 3 is facing multiple court challenges by Native nations, grassroots groups, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Gov. Walz's decision means that Enbridge may launch construction while the overall need and legality of the pipeline are being fought in court, including by a state agency. It's clear now that Gov. Walz's wish for Line 3 to have ‘a social permit’ was all talk and no action. This is a deeply unpopular pipeline that is a disaster for our climate, and it will be fought every step of the way."

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.