Oil pipeline foes protest Enbridge's Line 3 in Minnesota

Faith leaders gather for an interfaith prayer gathering before a day of protest action against the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline at LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
Faith leaders gather for an interfaith prayer gathering before a day of protest action against the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline at LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

Hundreds of protesters vowing to do whatever it takes to stop a Canadian-based company’s push to replace an aging pipeline blocked a pump station Monday in northern Minnesota

SOLWAY, Minn. (AP) — Hundreds of protesters vowing to do whatever it takes to stop a Canadian-based company's push to replace an aging pipeline blocked a pump station Monday in northern Minnesota, with some people chaining themselves to construction equipment before police began making arrests.

Environmental and tribal groups say Enbridge Energy's plan to rebuild Line 3, which would carry Canadian tar sands oil and regular crude from Alberta to Wisconsin, would worsen climate change and risk spills in sensitive areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, hunt, fish, gather medicinal plants, and claim treaty rights.

By evening, at least 30 people were arrested by state police and sheriff's officers, but the number "is growing rapidly,” Ashley Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for Treaty People Gathering, told The Associated Press.

None of them appeared to resist as allies chanted “We love you.” Protesters said the Treaty People Gathering was the largest show of resistance yet to the project.

The crowd showed no signs of leaving hours after an earlier protest at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, roughly 20 minutes away, where they chanted “Stop Line 3!” and “Water is life!”

“This is important. This is what we need,” actress Jane Fonda told the AP at the rally, motioning toward the crowd as she held signs with President Joe Biden’s image that said, “Which side are you on?”

She urged protesters to keep pressuring Biden to halt construction so his administration can study any harm to the environment and indigenous people. The Mississippi River is one of the water crossings for the pipeline.

Fonda said Line 3 protesters "are going to Standing Rock this place," referring to the Dakota Access pipeline, which is owned by a different company and was the subject of major protests near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas in 2016 and 2017.

Activists said they were pitching tents at the pump station site Monday night, and an AP reporter saw people rolling a large wooden spool that holds wire into a pile of trees and twigs. Police were directing traffic.

Elizabeth Claggett-Borne, 55, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, sat in a beach chair perched in front of a boat blocking the entrance to the work site. She was equipped with a homemade device made of rebar, PVC pipe and handcuffs, in order to make it more difficult for authorities to remove her from the site.

“We’re just foot soldiers,” she said. “But we’re here to stay.”

Minnesota Public Radio News reported that a Border Patrol helicopter at one point hovered about 20 feet (6 meters) off the ground, blowing up sand and dirt, to try to get protesters to leave.

Enbridge said that 44 workers were evacuated from the site in an effort to de-escalate the situation. In a written statement, the company said it “hoped all parties would come to accept the outcome of the thorough, science-based review and multiple approvals of the project.”

Spokeswoman Juli Kellner said the company will assess potential damage once it can safely reenter the site.

Enbridge says the 1960s-era Line 3 pipeline is deteriorating and can run at only about half its original capacity. It says the new line, made from stronger steel, will better protect the environment while restoring its capacity and ensuring reliable deliveries to U.S. refineries.

More than 300 groups delivered a letter to Biden last month calling on him to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to suspend or revoke Enbridge's federal clean water permit for the project. They urged Biden to follow the example he set on the first day of his administration, when he canceled the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, citing worries about climate change.

Biden has not taken a stand on Line 3, and Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is letting the legal process play out.

Biden's administration has declined to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline. In Michigan, Enbridge is defying an order by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to shut down its Line 5 because of the potential for a spill in a channel linking two Great Lakes.

Enbridge is gearing up for a final construction push on Line 3, which clips a corner of North Dakota on its way across northern Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The Canadian and Wisconsin replacement segments are already carrying oil. The Minnesota segment is about 60% complete. The company has said it plans to put the line into service late this year.

Enbridge, which updated the projected total cost for Line 3 in February to $7.3 billion (U.S.), has been touting the economic benefits, including about 4,000 jobs as full-scale work resumes.

Both sides are awaiting a ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals on a legal challenge by environmental and tribal groups that want to overturn state regulators’ approval of the project. The court is expected to rule by June 21 on whether Enbridge adequately proved a long-term need.

The independent Public Utilities Commission approved the project, but the state Department of Commerce, two tribes and other opponents argue that the company’s demand projections failed to meet the legal requirements. Enbridge and the PUC say the projections complied.

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Associated Press writer Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan, contributed to this story.

Activist Jane Fonda joins hundreds of protesters chanting "Stop Line 3!" and "Water is life!" gathered at the headwaters of the Mississippi River in in Solway, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021 to resist a Canadian-based company's plan to replace an aging pipeline that carries crude oil from Alberta to Wisconsin. (AP Photo by David Kolpack)
Activist Jane Fonda joins hundreds of protesters chanting "Stop Line 3!" and "Water is life!" gathered at the headwaters of the Mississippi River in in Solway, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021 to resist a Canadian-based company's plan to replace an aging pipeline that carries crude oil from Alberta to Wisconsin. (AP Photo by David Kolpack)

Credit: David Kolpack

Credit: David Kolpack

An activist who declined to giver their name lays chained to a piece of construction equipment while occupying an Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
An activist who declined to giver their name lays chained to a piece of construction equipment while occupying an Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

An activist who identified themselves as Chip sits chained to a piece of construction equipment at a Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
An activist who identified themselves as Chip sits chained to a piece of construction equipment at a Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

Activists sit on an around construction equipment while occupying an Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
Activists sit on an around construction equipment while occupying an Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

Two activists who declined to give their names sit chained together around a piece of construction equipment at an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
Two activists who declined to give their names sit chained together around a piece of construction equipment at an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

A Department of Homeland Security helicopter circles an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
A Department of Homeland Security helicopter circles an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

An activist runs from a Department of Homeland Security helicopter's rotor wash as it stirs up grass and dirt at an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
An activist runs from a Department of Homeland Security helicopter's rotor wash as it stirs up grass and dirt at an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

A Department of Homeland Security Helicopters uses its rotor wash to stir up dirt as activists take materials to build barricades at an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
A Department of Homeland Security Helicopters uses its rotor wash to stir up dirt as activists take materials to build barricades at an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

Activist and Attorney Tara Houska at an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
Activist and Attorney Tara Houska at an occupied Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Credit: Evan Frost

Credit: Evan Frost

Actress and activist Jane Fonda joins Indigenous elders as they prepare to perform a traditional water ceremony, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Actress and activist Jane Fonda joins Indigenous elders as they prepare to perform a traditional water ceremony, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

An indigenous woman raises her fist during an interfaith prayer circle at LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered at LaSalle from around the country. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
An indigenous woman raises her fist during an interfaith prayer circle at LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered at LaSalle from around the country. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Everlasting Wind, aka Dawn Goodwin, joins others by raising her fist in the Mississippi River near an Enbridge pipeline construction site, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. Goodwin is a co-founder of RISE Coalition. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Everlasting Wind, aka Dawn Goodwin, joins others by raising her fist in the Mississippi River near an Enbridge pipeline construction site, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. Goodwin is a co-founder of RISE Coalition. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Rainee Thompson swims in the Mississippi River near an Enbridge construction site and the headwaters of the river, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Rainee Thompson swims in the Mississippi River near an Enbridge construction site and the headwaters of the river, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Roy Broncheau, aka Walks Through Hail, raises his hand to the sky after performing a prayer with tobacco on the bank of the Mississippi River, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Roy Broncheau, aka Walks Through Hail, raises his hand to the sky after performing a prayer with tobacco on the bank of the Mississippi River, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" march through swamp land to the boardwalk leading to an Enbridge pipeline construction site, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" march through swamp land to the boardwalk leading to an Enbridge pipeline construction site, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

A makeshift "black snake" resembling a pipeline is carried as demonstrators march along Highway 9, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
A makeshift "black snake" resembling a pipeline is carried as demonstrators march along Highway 9, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Jesse Barrientez, aka Red Feather, center, plays the drums and sings tribal songs with other Indigenous people during a march, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Jesse Barrientez, aka Red Feather, center, plays the drums and sings tribal songs with other Indigenous people during a march, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Roy Broncheau, aka Walks Through Hail, plays the drum and sings during a march, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Roy Broncheau, aka Walks Through Hail, plays the drum and sings during a march, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Actress and activist Jane Fonda, left, locks hands with Grandmother Mary Lyons after they prepared to perform a traditional water ceremony, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Actress and activist Jane Fonda, left, locks hands with Grandmother Mary Lyons after they prepared to perform a traditional water ceremony, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" march through swamp land to the boardwalk leading to an Enbridge pipeline construction site, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" march through swamp land to the boardwalk leading to an Enbridge pipeline construction site, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" from around the country march along Highway 9 in Clearwater County, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" from around the country march along Highway 9 in Clearwater County, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn., to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

Nancy Beaulieu rests her shoulder on Everlasting Wind, aka Dawn Goodwin, during an interfaith prayer circle at LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)
Nancy Beaulieu rests her shoulder on Everlasting Wind, aka Dawn Goodwin, during an interfaith prayer circle at LaSalle Lake State Recreation Area, on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Clearwater County, Minn. More than 2,000 Indigenous leaders and "water protectors" gathered in Clearwater County from around the country to protest the construction of Enbridge Line 3. The day started with a prayer circle and moved on to a march to the Mississippi headwaters where the oil pipeline is proposed to be built. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Credit: Alex Kormann

Credit: Alex Kormann

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