It was revealed that a Canadian company – Enbridge has “reimbursed” $2.4 million to US police for the arrests and surveillance of hundreds of demonstrators opposing its Line 3 pipeline, the Guardian reported after obtaining documents through a public records request.
Enbridge is replacing the Line 3 pipeline through Minnesota to carry oil from Alberta to the tip of Lake Superior in Wisconsin. The new pipeline carries a heavy oil called bitumen, doubles the capacity of the original to 760,000 barrels a day and carves a new route through pristine wetlands.
Climate group MN350 claims that the expanded pipeline will emit the equivalent greenhouse gases of 50 coal power plants.
The Canadian-based company’s president and CEO, Al Monaco, said in a statement that the pipeline “will soon deliver the low-cost and reliable energy that people depend on every day.”
The project was completed despite stiff opposition from tribes, environmentalists and others who argued that the 1,765-kilometer) pipeline, including the 542-kilometer segment across Minnesota, would violate treaty rights, worsen climate change and risk spills in waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice.
They note it would carry oil from Alberta’s tar sands, a heavier crude that consumes more energy and generates more carbon dioxide in the refining process than lighter oil, making it an even bigger contributor to climate change.
None of that matters, however, since it appears money trumps anything.
To guarantee that the project was completed, police arrested more than 900 demonstrators opposing Line 3 and its impact on climate and Indigenous rights, according to the Pipeline Legal Action Network.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which regulates pipelines, decided rural police should not have to pay for increased strain from Line 3 protests. As a condition of granting Line 3 permits, the commission required Enbridge to set up an escrow account to reimburse police for responding to demonstrations.
Enbridge told the Guardian an independent account manager allocates the funds, and police decide when protesters are breaking the law.
Records obtained by the Guardian show a close working relationship between Enbridge and police.
In December 2020, Cass county’s sheriff’s office began “proactive safety patrols” of communities along the pipeline route. Up to August 6th, 2021 the Enbridge account reimbursed the sheriff $849,163.40 for these patrols.
Tom Burch, Cass county sheriff, wrote in his request for reimbursement that a Cass county supervisor was assigned to the project and met several times daily with Enbridge public safety liaison staff to discuss safety concerns, intelligence gathering and public safety initiatives for the day.
Asked if the company is directing police, an Enbridge spokesperson, Michael Barnes, wrote in an email: “Officers decide when protesters are breaking the law – or putting themselves and others in danger.”
As such it turns out that police protected the private interests of the company to realize the pipeline.
In comparison, the repeatedly sanctioned Nord Stream 2 was constructed completely legally, receiving all necessary permits, while being heavily scrutinized.
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