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Fond du Lac Band says all options open regarding Line 3

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa said Friday all options are still being considered regarding the final route of Enbridge’s Line 3.

“Reports that we ‘are willing to allow Enbridge Energy to route the new Line 3 oil pipeline through the reservation’ are being misunderstood,” Tribal council chairman Kevin Dupuis, Sr. said in a statement. “As a sovereign nation, we are confounded that we are being forced to choose between two evils as both routes pass through our lands — the Fond du Lac Reservation and the 1854 Ceded Territories.”

In a letter sent to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday, Sara Van Norman, an attorney representing Fond du Lac, wrote that while the band has "significant concerns about the replacement Line 3," they're considering an agreement with Enbridge to route the pipeline through the reservation.

"Provided that Enbridge and the Band are able to reach agreement on terms, the Band is willing to consider an agreement with Enbridge under which RSA-22 could be approved, allowing replacement Line 3 to be installed along the existing route through the Reservation," Van Norman wrote.

Two routes are being considered for the pipeline. One route option is through the reservation, which follows the existing pipelines, and the second option is a route around the reservation.

Although bands have the ability to block any new pipelines on their reservation, Dupuis said they feel like they are being backed into a corner.

“The band must now choose whether to allow Enbridge to expand line 3 through the reservation or to allow a brand-new expansion of pipeline capacity through the 1854 Ceded Territory in areas that have never had a pipeline before,” he said. “There is no perfect outcome here, all remaining options threaten the environment for all and livelihood of the indigenous people of Minnesota.”

Dupuis said the tribe is planning on holding community meetings throughout the month to seek band members’ input, and reiterated that nothing has been decided.