By Ilhan Omar, originally published April 9, 2021 on CNN
By the Mississippi River headwaters -- the mighty river running through the center of our country and powering much of Minnesota -- is a small, clear stream. Its bends hold marshy reeds surrounded by towering pines. It's one of the places where traffic noise is a rarity and the forest looms large. Lately, however, the sounds of heavy equipment and excavators prepping the ground to transport tar sands oil under the riverbed echo through the wetlands. Segments of the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline wait in nearby work yards, ready to redirect the dirtiest fossil fuel more than 300 miles through "The Land of 10,000 Lakes."
We're just two months into President Joe Biden's administration. On his first day in office he revoked the permit to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, another long-fought tar sands oil project proposed out of Alberta, Canada. Climate science and racial justice are clear priorities for this administration. Science isn't a bad word and Covid-19 is a crisis, not a hoax.
Yet, here in the north woods of Minnesota, any progress feels far away. It's hard to celebrate when your sacred places are threatened to be torn apart in front of your eyes. Tears swim in tired eyes and prayers go up for the delicate wild rice beds downstream, the generations not yet born and the pain of inequity as old as the state of Minnesota.
It isn't just a pipeline. To hear Enbridge, the fossil fuel corporation behind the Line 3 project, tell the tale, it's a replacement pipeline to bring crude oil through the territory, most for eventual foreign export.
The old Line 3 is leaking, they say, and it must be replaced for safety reasons. Their story omits the fact that the replacement pipeline would nearly double its current capacity, all but guaranteeing that our state would not meet its emissions reduction targets. It also ignores that the new route goes through hundreds of acres of wetlands and over 200 bodies of water untouched by pipeline, and that Enbridge wants a new pipeline corridor through Minnesota's wetlands to avoid congestion. Notably, the old pipeline route would be left in the ground to rot.
Read the full article on CNN.