Line 3 Faces New Legal Challenge to Water Permit


St. Paul, MN -- A new lawsuit filed yesterday evening challenges the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s approval of a key water quality permit for Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline. 

The suit was filed by Friends of the Headwaters, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth in the Minnesota Court of Appeals. 

The controversial tar sands pipeline faces a number of legal challenges, as well as widespread opposition from Minnesotans concerned about the threat to Minnesota’s waterways, Indigenous rights, and the climate. Tribes have also raised concerns about allowing Enbridge to bring in workers to construct Line 3 amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic could pose serious health risks to nearby communities. 

“MPCA’s approval of permits for Line 3 isn’t just out of step with science and the will of Minnesotans, it also violates the law,” said Sierra Club North Star Chapter Director Margaret Levin. “We will not stop fighting to ensure that this dangerous tar sands pipeline expansion is never completed.” 

“Commissioner Bishop and the PCA have violated the PCA’s own mission statement in sanctioning the Line 3 401 permit. We believe that’s wrong, and that’s why Friends of the Headwaters is leading the effort to overturn their error in court,” said Richard Smith, President, Friends of the Headwaters.

“The White Earth Band continues to stand and protect the waters for the wild rice, the fish, the birds and the four-legged creatures who are our relations and gifts from the Creator” said Frank Bibeau, White Earth Tribal Attorney. “We will continue to use every legal avenue available to stop the degradation of our waters for future generations to enjoy our Treaty protected resources on and off reservation.”

"It seems ironic and deeply troubling that on the day Gov. Walz convened his new committee on climate, the PCA approved the last of the permits needed to build an unnecessary tar sands pipeline at a peak in the pandemic in northern Minnesota when our climate is already in flux," adds Winona LaDuke, Co-founder and Executive DIrector of Honor the Earth. "Some big questions need to be asked: What if the Appeals Court sides against Enbridge in the legal cases before it? What if the new Biden administration squashes this pipeline? What is Enbridge's plan if its workforce gets coronavirus? Its ‘safety’ plan doesn't address what its workers do or where they go when they're not on the job. This latest lawsuit against the PCA is another good step in protecting our natural resources and our citizens from the dangerous folly that is Line 3."


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