AAs we prepare to turn the page in 2020 and inaugurate Joe Biden as president on January 20, 2021, the incoming administration has a climate mandate to listen to people across America and keep fossil fuels in the ground. This means stopping the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipes on the first day.
While Trump supports bankrupt fossil fuel companies, including through government brochures from the Covid-19 stimulus packages to the sum of $ 15 billion, Biden has already pledged to get America out of the oil, hold polluters accountable, honor treaty rights, and stop the Keystone XL pipeline.
In August, Joe Biden unveiled his $ 2 trillion climate plan, which is supported by Indigenous people and its allies, black communities and environmental voters. Biden’s climate plan is the most ambitious plan by a major party presidential candidate. Be the Most ambitious climate president of all time, Biden must implement a climate test on all federal permits and projects, to ensure that any project that is not aligned with addressing the climate crisis and keeping warming below 1.5 degrees does not progress. A significant climate test must keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Last week, Biden announced New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland as his nominee for secretary of the interior of the United States. Haaland is a member of the Pueblo Laguna tribe; if confirmed, they will be the first native person to hold the position. We hope that your leadership will help protect our public lands and indigenous sovereignty as we phase out fossil fuels.
As we write, Minnesota communities are standing up to protect land, water, and treaty rights as construction of the Line 3 pipeline begins and lawsuits are filed in opposition. Meanwhile, South Dakota communities are mobilizing to pressure Biden to terminate the Keystone XL permit and end the project once and for all.
If built, Line 3 would release as much greenhouse gas pollution as 50 new coal-fired power plants, violates the rights of the Ojibwe and Chippewa treaties, and endangers Minnesota’s water, ecosystems and communities. Keystone XL would have an equally devastating impact on water, land, people, and the treaty and inherent rights of the Oceti Sakowin tribes.
Both pipeline projects have blatantly declined a meaningful inquiry with the impacted tribes. This is blatantly disrespectful of grassroots dedication to territories that have resisted this invasion for years, as well as a denial of the irreversible impact these pipelines will have on cultural and spiritual sites.
Projects like Line 3 and Keystone XL too directly linked to violence and trafficking of native women and girls, due to the installation of temporary housing for pipeline workers, mostly men, known as “men’s camps”. These men’s camps are also a Covid-19 hotbed, attracting thousands of workers from other states. South Dakota is at a tipping point with Covid-19 cases, but the threat of Keystone XL construction looms.
There is growing anticipation of violence of the militarized police partnered with Enbridge, the Canadian pipeline company that backs Line 3, sparking memories of violence against water protectors and allies in the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
In the shadow of centuries of genocide and elimination of indigenous peoples, Barack Obama stopped the DAPL and rejected Keystone XL. Now, Biden has the opportunity to build on this legacy and stop Line 3, Keystone XL and DAPL.
Stopping these pipelines is entirely within the purview and responsibility of Joe Biden. Through executive action, Biden can order an immediate pause in pipeline construction and a moratorium on any new projects or expansion, while he reviews Trump-era approvals for conflict or undue influence from the fossil fuel industry. Biden must backtrack too 100 environmental and climate protection setbacks triggered by the Trump administration.
But to be a true climate president, Biden must go further. Just as pipelines will inevitably spill, any new or existing fossil fuel project would inevitably fail a climate test. There is no safe or clean way to extract, transport, or refine coal, oil or gas without poisoning our communities and driving us beyond 1.5 ℃ of warming. In addition, the construction, transportation and burning of fossil fuels have serious impacts on public health and safety, including premature death, lung cancer and increased rates of Covid-19.
From the Keystone XL Promise to protect to line 3 Oath of resistance, tens of thousands of people are prepared to exercise our sacred and patriotic duty to stop these toxic and unnecessary fossil fuel projects. Additionally, thousands of people have already sent petitions to Joe Biden urging him to stop these projects.
It’s time to make polluters pay for the damage done to the health, land, and well-being of our communities. This starts with stopping fossil fuel projects and returning the earth to indigenous peoples. Ultimately, we must dismantle existing projects and fund a just and equitable transition to a 100% renewable regenerative economy.
The stakes are higher than ever, economically, socially and politically. Biden must show guts to hold coal, oil and gas executives accountable for knowingly bringing weather disasters, pollution, disease and death to our doorstep.
It is our time to leap into a renewable energy revolution that focuses on indigenous sovereignty, community health, and a safe and livable future for all.
Faith Spotted Eagle is a member of the Yankton Sioux tribe, opposes pipeline projects including Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline, and is the first indigenous person to win an electoral vote for president.
Kendall mackey is 350.org Regional Campaign Manager
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.