On July 28, I had an experience as I walked my dog on Twin Lakes Road at about 5:30 a.m. that demonstrated clearly what is valued in Wadena and Hubbard counties.
I live in Wadena County, but nearly on the border of Hubbard County. The Line 3 work near me crosses under the Shell River in two locations in both counties, and has resulted in 24-hour-a-day law enforcement presence near our home. A law enforcement vehicle has been posted for weeks at the entrance to 159th Avenue, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, about 60 feet from my driveway.
As I walk my dog, I walk down across the Twin Lakes bridge, a section of the road that has a 30-mile-an-hour speed limit due to the narrow bridge and possible pedestrian traffic.
On this morning, as I walked, a car with a very loud exhaust barreled up from the bridge toward me. I watched (and listened) as the individual heavily accelerated before he was out of the 30-mph zone as he came up out of the bridge.
By the time he barreled by me, swerving to the right just as he neared me (I wear a headlamp and an orange reflective vest), he was certainly far exceeding the speed limit. As he passed me, he had already blown by 159th Avenue where, at that time, two law enforcement were now sitting.
Even if the speed of the vehicle wasn’t noticeable, the loud exhaust should have attracted their attention. But there wasn’t even a flash of headlights or a peek down the road. The two law enforcement vehicles remained firmly fixed, protecting Enbridge against old women in lawn chairs from chaining themselves to equipment. I, however, could have been hit by that speeding car, but the speeder was irrelevant at that moment. I was irrelevant. The priority was clear: not the people, but Enbridge.
The question must be asked, with the scarcity of resources in our counties, with law enforcement sitting at road entrances around the clock, who is ensuring all the rest of our laws are followed? Who is protecting us from DUIs on the highways? Who is quickly able to respond to 911 calls? Have more law enforcement been hired to offset all the resources being directed to protect Enbridge, a Canadian company? It certainly does not appear so, and am not sure it is even possible, especially with the labor shortages in our area.
Full disclosure: I am horrified at the wide swath of trees that have been cleared to make way for Line 3 construction near me. From the beginning, I have been worried about the risks associated with pipelines going under our fragile rivers and streams. But, this morning, it absolutely clarified the impact for me of all of our law enforcement being mobilized for the protection of Line 3.
As I hurriedly moved off the road to be sure I was clear of the speeding vehicle, two officers couldn’t spare a moment to follow the car as a deterrent, not even at 5:30 a.m. in the morning when there was not a protester in sight.