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9 Aug 2021

Audrey Carleton, VICE

An oil company paid police $2 million to defend its pipeline from protests; incl. company comment

Calgary-based oil giant Enbridge set up a fund called the Public Safety Escrow Trust in May, 2020 as part of its permitting process for the Line 3 pipeline route, which carries tar sands oil from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. The funds in this account have been used to reimburse costs associated with “maintaining the peace” around the pipeline, including for officer wages, lodging, and boom trucks, according to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Line 3 permits. 

... On July 29, a group of unarmed environmental activists protesting the pipeline in Thief River Falls, Minnesota were tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and arrested... The nearby Marshall County Sheriff’s Department filed a reimbursement request for expenses associated with that day’s patrol, a spokesperson for the Minnesota PUC confirmed to Motherboard. According to the utility regulator, between June 8 and July 31, the Sheriff's Department was reimbursed $20,057.90 by Enbridge for personnel expenses associated with Line 3 assists. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department did not respond to a request for comment. 

... Though the July 29 incident was not the first time activists have been met by resistance from law enforcement, it was the first time police had used less-than-lethal weapons, the Giniw Collective, an environmental activist group led by Indigenous women and two-spirit people organizing against the pipeline, wrote in a Facebook post on August 1. Twenty activists were arrested and taken to Pennington County jail, where several were denied food and medical care for their injuries and held in solitary confinement, the group claimed.

... In a statement to Motherboard, Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner said the company recognizes protestors’ rights to “express their views about the energy we all use,” but that it does “not tolerate illegal and unsafe acts.” “Protests have had relatively little effect on the project’s schedule,” Kellner said. “The replacement of Line 3 is complete and in service in Canada and Wisconsin, and is over 80 percent complete in Minnesota.”