December 7, 2021

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All 12 federally recognized Indigenous tribes in Michigan urge Biden to shutter the Line 5 pipeline


The tribes stressed the importance of Biden explicitly urging in his letter that the shutdown be affirmed and resolved in a timely manner. Tribes also want the president to consider revoking the 1991 Presidential Permit that allowed for the pipeline expansion that included key sections of Line 5 being built. The tribes also requested that they be involved in negotiations with Canada by having a designated representative participate in those talks.

In addition to hitting Biden’s desk, the letter was sent to numerous lawmakers and Cabinet members, including Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Officials including Biden have so far been silent about the letter. A Biden administration official told Michigan Advance that they “expect that both the U.S. and Canada will engage constructively in [the 1977 Treaty] negotiations.”

Article six of the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty was invoked last month by Canada in an effort to allow Line 5 to remain operational and effectively halt any progress with State of Michigan v. Enbridge, a lawsuit filed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel asking an Ingham County Circuit Court judge to uphold Whitmer’s order to shut down Line 5. The treaty prevents public officials from hindering the flow of oil in U.S.-Canada pipelines.

Enbridge and conservative lawmakers in both the U.S. and Canada have continually fought to keep the pipeline running, bringing up the specter of rising energy costs despite the fact that experts believe incrementally shuttering the pipeline would only lead to negligible price hikes. A look at Enbridge’s PR campaign against the shuttering of Line 5 shows a company desperately clinging to oil in the face of an ongoing climate crisis. Instead of signaling even a passing interest in renewables, Enbridge’s team mocked up a map showing tanker trucks bringing oil up to Canada.

The tactics from Enbridge and the lawmakers who benefit from the fossil fuel industry reek of desperation. It’s worth noting that of the 14 lawmakers who sent a letter urging Biden to keep Line 5 in operation, just one person received no donations from fossil fuel companies. The rest benefitted from thousands of dollars from the likes of Exxon Mobil, Marathon, and Valero, among others.

Biden sending a message to Enbridge and its sycophants that Line 5 must go would be an incredible way to honor Native American Heritage Month and the land so violently stolen from the Indigenous groups still fighting to keep it from being destroyed. The Great Lakes represent 21% of the Earth’s fresh water. It’s unacceptable that such a vital ecosystem would be deprioritized for the sake of such limited and damaging resources.


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