A group of young climate activists met shortly after sunrise in Mahnomen, Minnesota to conduct several 'missions' in a civil disobedience campaign to try and stop a border-crossing oil pipeline which will run across the wetlands and forests of northern Minnesota.
People chained themselves to equipment and occupied a pump station in Minnesota as part of protests against the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline being built from Canada to the U.S.— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 8, 2021
Critics say the project would worsen the climate emergency, risk oil spills & infringe on tribal land. pic.twitter.com/wYlHpM5Rpe
Using various code names - and operations "marmalade" and "peanut butter" being of particularly high risk, according to the Washington Post - the protesters planned to descend on an undisclosed location along a pipeline route known as "Line 3."
Dozens of cars were soon caravanning down dusty dirt roads amid corn and soybean fields in the largest salvo yet in an ongoing civil disobedience campaign to try to stop a border-crossing oil pipeline running from Canada across the wetlands and forests of northern Minnesota.
By midmorning, hundreds of protesters, led by Native American women and joined by celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener, had marched into a construction site operated by Enbridge, the Canadian company behind the pipeline, and strapped themselves to bulldozers and other heavy machinery. -WaPo
"Good morning water protectors!" shouted Native American attorney Tara Houska - a leader of the Line 3 protests, as she addressed the group and crossed into a pump station used to electrify the pipeline, according to organizers.
Indigenous activists have been a driving force in the conflict over Line 3, as they see a two-pronged threat, "a carbon-producing fossil fuel project at a time of worsening climate change and one that also risks polluting tribal lands in the headwaters of the Mississippi River." The group has been emboldened by victories such as the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as gatherings at Standing Rock. They hope to similarly pressure the Biden administration into suspending the pipeline permit before Enbridge can complete the project.
"Biden has taken a very clear and very beautiful position on the climate crisis," said activist and Vietnam-era traitor Jane Fonda during her second trip to protest Line 3. "But we are really facing a potential catastrophe, and the science is very clear: it’s not enough to do something good here — like shutdown Keystone XL, shut down drilling on the Arctic national refuge — and then allow Line 3 to go through."
"We can't do this in bits and pieces," she added.
Jane Fonda encouraging ppl to mess w/ critical US infrastructurepic.twitter.com/xKA6uL50XG— maggie battles (@maggiebattlesxo) June 8, 2021
The activists have thus far made little progress in impeding the $4 billion project to replace a decades-old pipeline, as well as add new portions to various endpoints. The 350-mile Line 3 project stands at around 60% complete, while some 4,000 construction workers (a growing figure) are spread between five different areas of the project.
Enbridge director of tribal engagement in the US, Paul Elberth, said that the ongoing protests haven't "had a significant impact on construction," adding "Obviously it’s stressful when people are out protesting or if they’re doing damage to equipment or being disrespectful for the workforce."
"Construction largely has proceeded as planned."
Enbridge responded to the protest, saying in a statement: "We recognize people have strong feelings about the energy we all use, and they have the right to express their opinions legally and peacefully," adding "We hoped all parties would come to accept the outcome of the thorough, science-based review and multiple approvals of the project."
The protesters unsurprisingly pushed back, saying that the seriousness of the climate crisis demands more dramatic action to stop fossil fuel projects.
[A side note: despite the pandemic-driven lockdown which ground travel to a halt, C02 levels continued to climb to record highs.]
"I’m sick and tired of these corporations busting through all these sacred lands, trying to take up everybody’s livelihoods and take away the sacredness this earth carries. And I’m done," said protesters Kerry Labrador, a 39-year-old Native American from Boston, who had chained himself to the tire of a crane-type machine inside the Enbridge facility, adding "I traveled out here two days so I can sit here and do what I’m doing now."
By midafternoon, a Department of Homeland Security helicopter flew circles over the pump station telling the protesters to leave and that they were on the site illegally. Protestors said it hovered low above them, kicking up clouds of dirt. A few hours later, police arrived in riot gear and began arresting dozens of people.
“Our security guard force is armed with a cellphone,” Eberth said. “From here it’s up to law enforcement.”
Enbridge officials said that one of the two companies involved in building the pump station that protesters occupied is Native American-owned. That company, Gordon Construction, had “numerous employees who needed to be evacuated this morning” when the protest began, Eberth said.
The occupation of the pump station appeared to be largely peaceful, with protesters climbing onto machinery and chanting such slogans as “Hey hey, ho ho, Line 3 has got to go.”
Houska took a bullhorn and urged the crowd to “protect the sacred”— “For our daughters, for our sons, for the animals, for the water.” -WaPo
Department of Homeland Security is using a helicopter to clear out indigenous activists trying to stop the installation of a $3 billion new oil pipeline in Minnesota. 24 activists have chained themselves to a piece of equipment. #StopLine3 pic.twitter.com/kUxhqVghHm— ᒍOSᕼᑌᗩ ᒍEᖇEᗪ (@Joshuajered) June 8, 2021
Given that he majority of global pollution is caused by China, India and the ocean freight industry, perhaps the pipeline protesters should be looking beyond their own backyard if they're really interested in the global issue they claim to stand for.