Officials detailed extensive legal challenges in a letter to Band members
The Mille Lacs Band has been opposed to the Line 3 pipeline since Enbridge applied for a permit in 2015, and in a letter to Band members last month, elected officials reviewed the Band’s legal actions .
"The fact is, the Band government is as passionately opposed to the proposed Line 3 replacement route as our Band members are, and we are fighting back through the best means available to government — the courts," the letter stated.
In 2015, the Band retained one of the top environmental law firms in Minnesota to represent the Band on this matter. The Band has filed legal documents 73 times, most recently on December 7, 2020 — a 33-page brief in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
The latest appeal challenges the adequacy of the environmental review upon which the Commission's order granting the route permit was based.. Eventually there will be a response by the PUC and Enbridge, followed by a final round of briefings and oral arguments before the Court of Appeals. Ultimately, appeals will be heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
While there is some disagreement among northern Minnesota Ojibwe tribes, they agree on "the need to protect our cultural resources and way of life from the increased risk of an oil spill which could do irreparable harm to manoomin, medicinal plants, culturally significant areas, and other aquatic resources across our territory."
The letter also made clear that the Band has no ties to the protest camp that has been established in Aitkin County, although tribal officials stated their support for Band members who exercise their First Amendment right to protest.
"The role of a tribal government is to fight these matters through the courts and administrative processes, on a government-to-government basis, which is ultimately where these matters are won and lost," the letter concludes. "If you, as a Mille Lacs Band member, want to feel like you are part of the fight — you are. Your Mille Lacs Band government is fighting for all of us, now and for future generations."