Thirty-one arrested in Line 3 protest as opponents of the pipeline express concern over underwater drilling

Featured photo by Giniw Collective, an Indigenous movement against Line 3.

Thirty-one were arrested Tuesday for unlawful assembly and other charges at a Hubbard County Enbridge equipment site.

Sheriff Corey Aukes says the pipeline protesters disabled a semi-truck by attaching themselves to various points of the vehicle and after orders to disperse, deputies began making arrests.

The conflict was on Hubbard County Road 11 in Henrietta Township and began around 7:30 Tuesday morning.

Those arrested face charges of public nuisance, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct, and they all have been released from custody, according to Giniw Collective.

Opponents of the pipeline, the “water protectors,” expressed concern over the horizontal directional drilling process, which in this case will drill under waterways, like the Shell River.

The process is described as a “trenchless construction method” used to install pipes underground without disturbing the ground surface. 

A fair amount of “dewatering” of the waterway is required to avoid buoyancy and vacuum issues for the pipe installation when drilling under the water, despite the drought conditions. 

Dewatering lowers the water table so the construction area will remain dry, and best practices recommend moving the water by pumping into a wooded buffer, if available.

Enbridge recently applied for an additional permit to change the amount of dewatering needed, from 500 million to 5 billion gallons.

This new permit has prompted additional action from opponents, who say that the dewatering process will jeopardize the manoomin, or wild rice, harvest this year.

The White Earth Nation requested an additional agenda item to discuss this permit, which they say was granted by the DNR with no consultation with White Earth, at the next Tribal Executive Meeting.

“Contractors have witnessed removing water from Upper Rice Lake, and Lower Rice Lake is already at dangerously low levels,” said the joint letter from Chairman Michael Fairbanks and Secretary/Treasurer Alan Roy.

Much of Minnesota is in a moderate drought, with higher than average temperatures and lower than average precipitation.

The multi-billion-dollar Line 3 replacement project is expected to be complete by the fourth quarter of this year.

When complete, it will be capable of transporting 760,000 barrels of crude oil each day to its end destination in Superior, Wisc.

Line 3 segments in Canada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin are already complete, with Minnesota construction, as of earlier this week, reportedly 60 percent finished.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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