A Bad Romance: Biden and Enbridge Line 3

Our climate emergency worsens each day. Scientists have just declared that 2021 brought North America the hottest June on record. More heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and die-offs await us.

Despite such shocking circumstances, the Biden Administration offers no leadership. Despite broadcasting his commitment to tackling climate change, his American Jobs Act already brings humiliating concessions to a Congress with no interest in steering us away from the preeminent global crisis. Moreover, whatever this infrastructure bill might become, if ever passed, it is a neoliberal stimulus. Its ultimate aims are “growth” and its concessions include privatization.

Simultaneously, President Biden has actively encouraged fossil fuel extraction by approving the Enbridge Line 3 expansion, which would shift more Canadian tar sands oil to US ports. Enbridge — an egregious perpetrator of colonial settler violence — caused the worst inland oil leak in US history and with Line 3 is expected to add 193 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere each year.

Biden’s cancellation of Keystone XL this January should only enhance our outrage. The decision was unfinished business: Trump was able to reapprove KXL in January 2017 because the feckless Obama — fully aware of the opposition, especially from indigenous communities — delayed canceling it until late 2015—far into in his second term. Time is money for capitalists, and many delayed extraction projects have been abandoned when courts and assessments intervene. Nonetheless, Obama relinquished the power that he held and handed it to a successor whose commitment to the energy plutocracy was total.

The initiative on arresting global warming does not lie with the executive branch or other elites. But Biden’s dependence on a deadlocked Congress puts agency in the hands of every senator, especially our “progressive” Vermont legislators, who bewail the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and suggest that The American Jobs Act won’t have their votes if climate-related provisions are cut out. So, Senators Leahy and Sanders can leverage their power by tying their votes for an infrastructure or “Green New Deal” bill to Biden’s decisive halting of a (highly militarized) Enbridge Line 3. 

To that end, alongside other anti-pipeline actions in preparation this summer, Vermont-based Democratic Socialists should call upon Senators Leahy and Sanders to publicly

  • demand that the Biden Administration revoke approval of Enbridge Line 3;
  • refuse to support any infrastructure or climate change–related bills until Enbridge Line 3 is permanently stopped; and
  • urge the immediate removal of all federal “law enforcement” agencies currently occupying indigenous lands on behalf of Enbridge and its profit-hungry investors like TD Bank.

This situation offers Democratic Socialists an important lesson: that alignment with Democrats in anything but the most delimited, tactical ways is counter-productive and demoralizing. In this case, obstructing a nefarious extractive project (which economic and legal forces could soon kill, but only after the soil is scarred and the water poisoned) requires no commitment by socialists to back or modify Democratic Party–led efforts in Congress. It only asks us to mobilize around one vulnerable pressure point that could stop CO2 acceleration at the source, while releasing Water Protectors from further risks of state violence and physical hardship.

  • Carl G. Martin, CVT DSA Executive Committee

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