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Indian Country Today

The Minnesota Court of Appeals denied a request by tribes and others on Aug. 24 to hear an appeal opposing the construction of Enbridge Line 3.

The appeal, filed by the Red Lake, White Earth Band and Milles Lac Bands of Ojibwe and others, opposed the state’s Public Utilities Commission granting a certificate of need for the pipeline as well as a routing permit.

Winona LaDuke, White Earth Ojibwe and executive director of Honor the Earth, wrote in an email statement to Indian Country Today, “The rights of a Canadian corporation to continue to prevail over the laws of nature and the human rights of Anishinaabe people. That a court would rule there is no environmental impact when the rivers have been sucked dry and scientists are declaring a code red for the planet is deeping disturbing. A crime is being committed in front of us all. And now Enbridge is set to make a profit off the destruction of our north.”

According to a report in Energy Wire, Enbridge Inc. stated in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this month that oil could begin to flow through Line 3 by mid-September.

Enbridge communications specialist Juli Kellner responded to the court’s decision via email to Indian Country Today. She wrote, “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 has been reaffirmed multiple times by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The replacement of Line 3 is nearly complete and is expected to be in service this year.”

(Follow ICT's Enbridge coverage: A Pipeline Runs Through It)

There are two remaining lawsuits opposing Line 3, one in federal district court seeking suspension of the Army Corps of Engineer’s 401 water quality permit for the pipeline and a call for the Corps to conduct a full environmental impact statement. The Biden administration signaled in a court filing in June that it has no plans to cancel federal permits for the pipeline. It’s unclear when the case will be heard.

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Opponents also filed an appeal challenge to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission 401 water quality permit to Enbridge. The case is expected to be heard by Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, plaintiffs, wild rice or manoomin, in the rights of nature case have requested that White Earth Nation tribal court issue a temporary restraining order against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

(Related: 'Rights of nature’ lawsuits hit a sweet spot)

The request for the temporary restraining order reads, “immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage will result before notice can be served and a hearing thereon.”

The Department of Natural Resources filed an injunction on Aug. 19 in U.S. District Court claiming the tribal court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case and lacks jurisdiction over non-tribal members. The department also filed a motion to stay action in tribal court which the court denied.

Line 3 opponents are holding a series of events at the state Capitol in St. Paul this week, including a march and rally on Aug. 25 to call on President Joe Biden to order the Army Corps to cancel permits. They say Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has already failed them. More than 700 Line 3 opponents have been arrested or ticketed along the route since construction in Minnesota began in December 2020.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.