Description: Challenge to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizations for Line 3 pipeline project in Minnesota.
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/07/2022 Memorandum Opinion Download Federal defendants' and Enbridge's cross-motions for summary judgment granted and plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment denied. Federal Court Rejected Climate Change Arguments in Challenge to Line 3 Oil Pipeline Replacement Project. The federal district court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to the defendants in a challenge to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the replacement of sections of the Line 3 oil pipeline in Minnesota. The arguments rejected by the court included arguments that the defendants failed to conduct an adequate review of the project’s contributions to climate change. The court agreed with the Corps that the National Environmental Policy Act did not require consideration of greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline’s operation and transportation of crude oil because such effects would be “too far attenuated” from the permitted activities. The court therefore found that it was not arbitrary or capricious for the Corps to review only effects associated with the construction-related activities authorized by its permit. The court also found that the Corps’ discussion of the effects of construction activities on climate change was adequate. Regarding the “public interest” review under the Clean Water Act, the court similarly found that the Corps was not required to undertake an “expansive analysis” of the climate change implications of the entire project. 02/07/2021 Memorandum Opinion Download Motion for preliminary injunction denied. D.C. Federal Court Declined to Stop Construction of Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. On February 7, 2021, the federal district court for the District of Columbia denied the motion by Red Lake Band, White Earth Band, and other plaintiffs’ for a preliminary injunction in their case challenging U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits for the Line 3 pipeline project in Minnesota. The court, which did not address the plaintiffs’ arguments regarding alleged inadequacies in the climate change-related analyses, found that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits or that they would suffer irreparable harm. 01/15/2021 Memorandum Download Memorandum filed by Enbridge Energy, LP in opposition to plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. 01/15/2021 Response Download Response filed by federal defendant in opposition to plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. 01/09/2021 Memorandum Opinion Download Enbridge's motion to intervene granted. 12/24/2020 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuits Challenged Corps Authorization for, and Sought to Halt Work on, Line 3 Pipeline Project in Minnesota. The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Honor the Earth, and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Columbia challenging a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Enbridge Energy Line 3 pipeline replacement project in Minnesota. The plaintiffs—which asserted that approval of the permit violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act, and the Rivers and Harbors Act, Corps regulations and the Administrative Procedure Act—also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs alleged that the pipeline project would almost double the pipeline’s capacity and that the project would facilitate increased extraction and use of Canadian tar sands oil, resulting in “significant damage, estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars, due to its contribution climate change.” In their claims under NEPA, the plaintiffs alleged that the Corps failed to quantify and evaluate “cumulative and incremental effects of climate change, including the potential for increased lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and their associated costs, resulting from the approval of the Project and connected actions. 12/24/2020 Memorandum of Law Download Memorandum of law filed in support of motion for preliminary injunction.