According to Enbridge, damage to the Two Inlets pump station following Monday’s protest included “extensive vandalism of contractor equipment, construction trailers broken into, and the destruction of environmental safeguards intended to control erosion and protect water quality.”
Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner said, “While we respect everyone’s right to peacefully and lawfully protest, that is not what happened on Monday at the Two Inlets pump station. Protesters attempted to trap workers, while forcefully entering and then occupying the site, trespassing and criminally damaging property. This is unacceptable, and we will seek the full prosecution of all involved.”
Damage at the site included slashed tires, cut hoses, rocks and dirt in engines, forced entry into offices and destroyed electrical wiring in equipment, according to a news release.
Kellner said safety is the pipeline company’s first priority. Workers were evacuated from the site, including employees of Indigenous-owned contractor Gordon Construction from the White Earth Reservation.
“Over 500 Native workers are part of the Line 3 workforce. The project is already providing significant economic benefits for counties, small businesses, Native American communities and union members – including creating 5,200 family-sustaining construction jobs and millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues,” Kellner said, adding that Enbridge remains “fully committed to its timely completion. The protest affected work at just this site, and construction continued yesterday and today across dozens of worksites in the five construction zones that stretch across northern Minnesota.”
Kellner continued that “protests have had little impact on the project’s construction schedule, which is on track to be completed and in service in the fourth quarter of this year.”
“We hoped all parties would come to accept the outcome of the thorough, science-based review and multiple approvals of the project, which included 70 public comment meetings, appellate review and reaffirmation of a 13,500-page EIS, four separate reviews by administrative law judges, 320 route modifications in response to stakeholder input, and reviews and approvals from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa,” she said.
Kellner noted that leadership of the two reservations crossed by existing Line 3 have expressed their support for project permits.
31 law enforcement agencies respond
A total of 179 people were arrested June 7, according to a release from the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office.
According to the release, at 7:38 a.m. Monday, the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office received a report of approximately 20 pipeline demonstrators on foot approaching an Enbridge pipeline pumping station on 300th Street, just north of Park Rapids, later confirmed to be the Two Inlets pump station.
More calls were made to the sheriff's office reporting additional demonstrators on site attempting to scale the fence with ladders.
As Hubbard County deputies responded, further reports came in including demonstrator numbers growing to 300 individuals at the Enbridge property. There were 43 Enbridge employees unable to exit the property due to the demonstrators locking them in behind the front gate, the release said.
Not long after deputies arrived on the scene, numerous vehicles were parked along U.S. Hwy. 71, along with a large number of demonstrators walking on the roadway, creating what the release called a traffic hazard.
"Enbridge employees were eventually able to exit the premises. It was learned that demonstrators had caused a large amount of damage to Enbridge equipment and other assets," the release said. "Demonstrators assembled barricades inside of the fenced area of the pumping station. Additionally, they put up barricades across the roadways and dug trenches across the township roads, presumably in preparation for a standoff with law enforcement."
The release continued, saying that demonstrators hauled in a large boat where approximately 20 demonstrators then chained or attached themselves to it.
"As the number of demonstrators grew to an estimated 500, additional law enforcement personnel were called in to assist with the growing crowd of trespassers and those committing acts of criminal damage to property," the release said.
Officers from 31 different law enforcement agencies assisted in the removal of the demonstrators from private property.
A total of 179 demonstrators were arrested and charged with gross misdemeanor trespassing with an additional 68 individuals cited with public nuisance and unlawful assembly.
Biden asked to intervene
According to a news release by protest organizers, more than 2,000 “water protectors” gathered at the June 7 demonstration.
Calling it the “Treaty People Gathering,” about 500 people shutdown the Two Inlets pump station with Giniw Collective for over 29 hours.
Twenty-four water protectors locked themselves to machinery inside the pump station and were eventually arrested.
Another group of 24 attached themselves to a boat blockading the access road overnight, with arrests still happening on Tuesday afternoon.
Concurrently, 1,500 people marched to the spot where the Line 3 pipeline is scheduled to drill near the Mississippi, with 200 people camping overnight, led by the RISE Coalition.
“We need to protect all that we have left of the sacred gifts and land. I said that I would do all that I could. And I have done all that I could in the legal system, thus far following that process. Now, they have failed us through regulatory capture and corporate financing. So now we need you,” said Dawn Goodwin of the RISE Coalition.
Line 3 opponents are calling on President Biden to stop Line 3, which they say threatens northern Minnesota’s waters, the global climate, and Anishinaabe treaty rights.
“We have very few options left. We are here to protect the water, the wild rice and the next seven generations of life. Keystone XL was stopped on the merits of environmental justice and treaty rights, this is no different. We demand President Biden take action now,” said Simone Senogles of the Indigenous Environmental Network and RISE Coalition.
Multiple camps are poised along the pipeline route, including one on the Shell River.