MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The state of Minnesota has taken federal court action to prevent a lawsuit over the Enbridge Energy Line 3 pipeline project from going to tribal court.
The new case names Manoomin – the Ojibway word for wild rice – as the main plaintiff. Wild rice is sacred in Ojibwe culture and a traditional source of food.
The lawsuit, which was filed two weeks ago in the White Earth Band Tribal Court, is the first “rights of nature” enforcement case to be brought to a U.S. tribal court and the second of its kind to be filed. in a US court. The first was a Florida waterways case filed in April, according to the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources filed an injunction in U.S. district court on Thursday to quash the wild rice lawsuit. The state agency said the tribal court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case because the DNR and its employees named in the lawsuit are not members of the White Earth Band, and it argues that the tribe does not have jurisdiction over non-members for actions that occur. out of reservation.
The lawsuit, filed by the tribe, advances a legal theory that nature itself has the right to exist and prosper. The plaintiffs also include several members of the White Earth tribe and people who demonstrated along the Line 3 construction route through northern Minnesota. More than 700 people were arrested during the protests.
Opponents of the project have argued that Line 3 would risk spilling oil into the waters where wild rice grows and exacerbate climate change. The tribal lawsuit, among others, accuses the DNR of failing to protect the state’s water by allowing Enbridge to pump up to 5 billion gallons of groundwater from construction trenches despite the current drought. The agency says permitting the pumping will not have a significant impact on nearby wetlands or surface water.
The tribal court ruled on Wednesday that the trial can continue. The next hearing is scheduled for August 25.
Construction of the Minnesota segment is nearly 90 percent complete, Juli Kellner, spokesperson for Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alta., Said Friday. Line 3 transports crude oil from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Sections in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin have been completed.
Enbridge said the project is necessary because the current Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, is deteriorating and can only operate at half of its original capacity.