Indigenous and climate activists this week launched a national “Stop Trump Pipelines” campaign to pressure U.S. President Joe Biden and other key decision-makers to depart from the polluter-friendly positions of former President Donald Trump by blocking a pair of controversial fossil fuel pipelines.
“Do not be afraid to do the right thing, President Biden.”
—Joye Braun, IEN
The effort—led by Bold Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and partners from frontline communities—is kicking off with a six-figure television and digital campaign targeting Canada-based Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 and Line 5 pipelines.
Moving forward, organizers said Friday, the campaign plans to “launch new efforts on the airwaves, online, and in communities across the country to keep the pressure up on policymakers and stop risky pipelines advanced by the Trump administration.”
The day he took office in January, Biden revoked a permit that Trump granted for the Keystone XL pipeline in March 2019, citing the climate crisis and declaring that the project did not serve the U.S. national interest.
“Keystone XL was the first pipeline that President Biden rejected,” says the new campaign website, “but it should not be the last.”
Campaign organizers say that “decision-makers in Washington, D.C. and across the country now have a choice—stand with the Trump pipelines that prop up big oil and gas profits and cronyism or the approach Biden established when he canceled KXL.”
“Stand for science, respect for treaty and property rights, racial justice, clean water, and solutions to the climate crisis,” campaigners instruct Biden and other political leaders, “and stop the Trump pipelines.”
“On Day One Biden canceled KXL, but this was never going to be a one and done, feel good decision to stop climate change,” said Joye Braun, frontline community organizer with IEN, in a statement Friday. “We must stop all toxic pipeline projects from moving forward.”
“Trump told lies to bolster corporate profit and rape of our lands and resources,” Braun added. “Do not be afraid to do the right thing, President Biden.”
Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, said that “Biden showed tremendous strength in rejecting Keystone XL in favor of clean water, farmers’ property rights, the sovereign rights of tribal nations, and clear action on climate change.”
“We want to make sure with the climate goals that Biden has set forth, that it is understood we cannot keep building fossil fuel pipelines and reach those bold goals. Our communities deserve clean water and a future that respects the land,” she said.
The Washington Post noted Thursday that Republican politicians and the energy industry blamed gas prices on Biden’s decision and claimed that the move hurt workers. Kleeb told the newspaper that “I think it was a failure of our community that we weren’t ready with ads and arguments.”
The campaign’s new ad in Michigan argues against Line 5—a decades-old system that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a key Biden ally, took action to shut down in November, highlighting its threat to the Great Lakes. Enbridge fought back, and the company and state are now engaged in court-ordered mediation talks.
“Gov. Whitmer heeded the call: Strong hearts to the front. It took courage and wisdom to stop the dangerous Enbridge Line 5 pipeline,” the ad says. “Her actions are aligned with the Biden administration’s commitment to protect clean water.”
“Just like when President Biden rejected the KXL pipeline,” the ad continues. “President Biden and Gov. Whitmer are strong of heart and are choosing our families over the interests of a foreign oil corporation. Protect our water. Protect our future. Stop Line 5.”
After Biden won the November election but before Trump left office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a key permit for Enbridge’s Line 3, which is being built to replace an aging oil pipeline and crosses Anishinaabe treaty lands. Opponents have challenged it in court and on the ground, sometimes halting construction.
“Trump disrespected tribal nations, violated our rights, and lied about the impacts of oil pipelines on our health, water, and climate in order to rubber-stamp these risky projects across Indigenous lands,” said Dawn Goodwin, an IEN member and co-founder the Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging (RISE) Coalition, which is fighting against Line 3 in Minnesota.
“By rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, President Biden signals that he wants to take science and Indigenous rights seriously,” Goodwin said. “But the work to protect the land and water cannot stop with that one action. It is time for the president and state leaders to uphold their commitments to tribal sovereignty and racial justice by stopping these toxic pipelines and investing in a better future for the next seven generations of life.”
Indigenous leaders and climate activists plan to gather in Minnesota from June 5 to June 8 to peacefully disrupt Line 3 construction. Major events are scheduled for Monday, June 7.
“We need to protect all that we have left of the sacred gifts and land,” declared Goodwin. “I said that I would do all that I could. And I have done all that I could in the legal system, thus far following that process. Now, they have failed us through regulatory capture and corporate financing. So now we need you.”
Tara Houska, founder of the Giniw Collective and another key opponent of the project, said Friday that “we’ve elevated the national profile of Line 3 through people power.”
“Biden hears our voices, but the wetlands and wild rice need action,” she added. “We cannot mitigate climate crisis and we cannot stand idly by as [the Dakota Access pipeline] and Line 5 fossil fuels flow illegally, as young people chain themselves to Mountain Valley pipeline and Line 3. Stand up for what is right.”