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With Line 3 Nearing Finish Line, Tribal Opponents Continue Speaking Out


Tuesday, August 17, 2021   

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. -- The Line 3 oil pipeline for northern Minnesota could begin operating by as early next month.

The latest update comes as opponents, including tribal organizers, carry out efforts to halt the work, while calling attention to action by law enforcement.

According to Bloomberg, recently filed shipping notices have indicated that Line 3, which Enbridge Energy is building to replace an aging line, could be up and running by Sep. 15.

Tara Houska, tribal attorney and founder of the Giniw Collective, has been among those fighting the project. She said the Biden administration needs to stay true to its word on aggressive environmental policy and intervene.

"The reality is this is one of the largest tar-sands infrastructure projects in North America," Houska explained. "And it's going through the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the shore of Lake Superior. There's been 28 spills already into the river as they know, and they haven't intervened."

She is referring to 28 drilling fluid spills reported by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as construction ramped up.

In one of the latest efforts to stop Line 3, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe sued the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in tribal court, saying pumping of water during construction violates treaty rights because of the impact on wild rice.

Enbridge and project supporters say the environmental risk has held up to scrutiny during the permitting process.

Meanwhile, Houska and other self-described "water protectors" pointed out nearly 700 people have been arrested while carrying out their resistance. She added she was struck by rubber bullets and Mace at point-blank range when demonstrating at a construction site two weeks ago.

"The response by law enforcement was extreme and brutal," Houska asserted. "It was one instance of many that we've experienced as land defenders."

Houska noted law enforcement is incentivized to go after protesters because of a special fund Enbridge pays into to cover security costs along the construction route. Some local police agencies have criticized that characterization, saying people have the right to protest, and law enforcement has to do its job when calls come in for trespassing or damage to property.

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