Indigenous women leaders across the United States have called upon President-elect Joe Biden to put an immediate and permanent halt to three of the country’s pipeline projects, saying Indigenous rights and the threat of “climate chaos” demand an end to the reign of fossil fuels.
Days after the letter was published, CBC reported Sunday that Biden is expected to cancel one of the three pipelines on his first day in office Wednesday.
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The 75 women representing Indigenous groups from across the U.S. and Canada co-signed the impassioned letter to the president-elect, urging him to take immediate executive action to halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipeline projects, states the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), which partnered with the leaders to release the letter.
Such actions will “uphold Indigenous rights, align the Biden administration with the goals of the Paris climate agreement, and keep fossil fuels in the ground,” WECAN writes.
Calling for “no more broken promises, no more broken Treaties,” the signatories press the president-elect to “fulfill the United States’ promise of sovereign relations with Tribes, and your commitment to robust climate action.”
The three named pipeline projects pose “grave threats” to both public health and cultural survival, the leaders write, adding that the many congested “man camps” that house pipeline workers put Indigenous communities at further risk of COVID-19 spread during the pandemic.
“The letter also highlights the connections between the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and pipeline construction, and that all three pipelines are moving forward despite a lack of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” adds WECAN.
Ashley Engle, an organizer with theIndigenous Environmental Network, addressed the president-elect by name, asking Biden to “stand on the right side of history and humanity by putting an immediate end to the deadly pipelines destroying our Earth, our communities, and all life.” Saying that future generations are counting on the present to do what’s right, she told Biden that “the time is now” to do his part.
Indigenous ancestors “have a footprint across this continent that spans at least 20,000 years,” added Christina Valdivia-Alcalá, a Topeka city councilwoman and director of the Tonantzin Society, and Indigenous people “continue forward” despite having been “conquered, colonized, killed, [and] dehumanized.” She asked Biden to help set right such injustices, and to chart a new course.
“Do the right thing. The honourable and just thing. Stop the KXL, Line 3, and DAPL pipelines,” she wrote.