Rep. Ilhan Omar has joined a group of U.S. representatives and senators in supporting an immediate suspension of the Line 3 pipeline’s Clean Water Act 404 permit.
Omar and the bicameral group recently wrote a letter to Jaime Pinkham, the U.S. Army’s acting assistant secretary for civil works, that accused the Army Corps of Engineers of failing “to consider significant information on the Line 3 tar sands pipeline’s impacts, including the risk of oil spills, climate change impacts, and impacts on Indigenous peoples.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes section 404 of the Clean Water Act as a permit program designed to “regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into the waters of the United States, including wetlands.” A 404 permit was granted for the Line 3 pipeline in 2020, though it ostensibly did not include a provision that Native American tribes be fully consulted on the pipeline’s effects.
“We believe that there must be a full consultation process with Tribes on the effects of Line 3 on treaty rights around hunting, fishing, harvesting wild rice, and cultural resources,” the letter reads.
“This should include the effects of the June 2021 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources approval to move ten times more water during construction than originally granted in November 2020.”
The letter also calls on the engineer corps to evaluate the risk of oil spills along Line 3’s route and a spill’s potential effects on the climate.
According to the EPA, 404 permits are required for “potentially significant impacts” to the environment. The Army Corps of Engineers, moreover, “evaluates applications under a public interest review, as well as the environmental criteria set forth in the CWA Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines.”
Nevertheless, Omar and the other legislators accuse the Trump administration of “restricting the scope of the Clean Water Act, limiting state and tribal authority under the Clean Water Act, and relaxing regulations on methane emissions from oil and gas wells.”