Floodwood, MN – On Saturday July 10th, water protectors stopped construction for a full day on an Enbridge worksite laying pipe for the Line 3 pipeline. Two water protectors locked to each other through the treads of a machine, while two others climbed up an excavator’s arm, where they stayed for 7 hours. This action took place on Anishinaabe treaty territories in solidarity with leaders of the growing Indigenous-led resistance to Line 3.
As these four water protectors stopped machinery, a large crowd gathered on the roadway in support, drumming, singing, and rallying in the summer heat. About 30 police officers from St. Louis, Carlton, and Aitkin counties responded, as well as State Troopers and a Fond Du Lac Tribal Officer. The four water protectors were arrested, adding to the over 500 arrests that have already occured as part of the movement to stop Line 3.
One of the water protectors who climbed an excavator said, “Stopping this pipeline would deal a really serious blow to the extraction and oil industry that does so much damage to indigenous lands. They’re scared, and rightfully so, because we’re not backing down.”
Line 3 is a $4 billion dollar pipeline project currently being built in Northern Minnesota by the Canadian multinational corporation Enbridge Inc. The project aims to replace and expand the aging and corroded existing Line 3, which carries tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Superior, WI. The existing Line 3 is responsible for the largest ever inland oil spill in US history, in which nearly 1.7 million barrels of crude oil spilled in Grand Rapids MN in 1991. Despite promises to bring needed income to Minnesota residents and hire 75% local workers, only a third of employees working the Line are from Minnesota.
Construction faces active and growing resistance led by Indigenous groups who see the project and the risk of a spill as a violation of treaty rights, as the project endangers wild rice lakes in treaty territories where the Anishinaabe have the right to hunt, fish, and gather. Opponents also decry the project’s contribution to the epidemic of MMIWR (missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives) through the importation of thousands of out-of-state workers. Environmental groups oppose the project’s contribution to climate change. Oil from the tar sands is the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel, and the expanded Line 3 would release as much carbon as 50 new coal-fired power plants.