Story at a glance
- Activists against the construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline cuffed themselves to equipment on Monday.
- The pipeline threatens natural resources specific to Indigenous peoples in the area, opponents say.
- Both parties look to President Biden for a stance on new oil pipeline development.
Environmental activists and protesters have spent the past few days demonstrating against the development of the Line 3 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota, recently escalating to locking themselves to industrial equipment in a desperate bid to halt the construction of the pipeline.
Line 3 is the latest oil pipeline that is slated to extend from Canada to the U.S. and shuttle oil sands between both nations. Opponents say the pipeline will risk oil spills among more than 200 bodies of water, along with the large fossil fuels set to emit from it.
It is also set to be constructed on historically Indigenous lands. The pipeline is expected to run roughly 340 miles.
“What is at stake is the fresh clean water, our way of life, meaning our gathering, hunting, harvesting wild rice, the animals that we eat for nutrition and the berries, the plants and also the fresh clean air that we have,” Tania Aubid of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe said.
With construction still being given the green light, foes of Line 3 began physically tying themselves to the machinery, which eventually resulted in police arriving, local outlets report.
Hundreds of pipeline activists are facing off against a wall of law enforcement outside one of Enbridge’s Line 3 pump stations. Inside they’re arresting people who have locked down to construction equipment. @efrostee has documented at least 20 people in handcuffs. pic.twitter.com/u3ELp9RTUX— Dan Kraker (@dan_kraker) June 7, 2021
Eventually, a police sanctioned helicopter was dispatched, and hovered about 25 feet above the ground, announcing demonstrators would be arrested if they did not leave, Minnesota Public Radio further reports.
“A helicopter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection was brought in today to issue a dispersal order to a large group of people in the area of Two Inlets Pump Station by Park Rapids, MN,” the police task force wrote on Facebook. “The idea was to provide the order in a manner that everyone would be able to hear.”
Officials said that any discomfort resulting from the helicopter’s presence was not intended.
Line 3 protests echo similar demonstrations, namely the embattled Dakota Access Pipeline that ran through Sioux tribal lands.
President Biden has oscillated on his stance surrounding new and continued oil pipeline construction. He recently halted further development of the Keystone XL pipeline pending an environmental impact review, but has yet to take a stance on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Advocates have since filed a brief saying they will ask the Supreme Court to block pipeline construction over its permit status.
In response, groups like Stop Line 3 have launched a petition to urge Biden to stop the pipeline’s construction. The group says over 200,000 people have signed it as of Tuesday.