70 Water Protectors Cited, 1 Arrested During Line 3 Commemorative Rally

Grand Rapids, MN – On March 3, 1991, Enbridge’s original Line 3 pipeline had the largest inland oil spill in North America—1.7 million gallons of tar sands crude polluted Prairie River, a tributary of the Mississippi River. To commemorate that tragedy and continue their resistance to the new Line 3, over 75 water protectors rallied near the location of the spill.

The rally, which consisted of speakers, chants, and holding banners and signs, was eventually surrounded by Itasca County Sheriffs and Minnesota State Troopers. The troopers told at least one water protector on video (shown below) that they were “conducting an investigation” and were gathering information. According to the Giniw Collective, 70 people were cited for “public nuisance” and one was arrested.

Resist Line 3 posted video of an interaction with one of the troopers:

Enbridge has reported 307 oil spills to federal regulators since 2002, totaling 2.8 million gallons of oil. Included in those figures is the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill of 840,000 gallons of tar sands.

According to Enbridge, the new Line 3 pipeline’s “expected initial capacity” is 760,000 barrels per day (bpd), yet other sources including research by Stop Line 3 (a campaign run by Honor the Earth), estimate the projected output to be up to 915,000 bpd.

If the pipeline is completed, hundreds of thousands of barrels of tar sands crude will be pumped from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, crossing 800+ wetlands, 200+ bodies of water, and the Mississippi River (twice).

In the map below, the two yellow circles show where Enbridge intends the new pipeline to cross the Mississippi River. The purple circle shows where the 1991 Grand Rapids spill occurred.

Line 3 map from Enbridge. Unicorn Riot added the two yellow circles and one purple circle.

Nearly 150 water protectors have been arrested during rallies and direct actions since the final permit was approved by Minnesota regulators on November 30, 2020; the resistance movement only seems to be growing.

Biidwewegiizhagookwe (Tania Aubid), an Indigenous water protector and traditional harvester, has been on a hunger strike for two and a half weeks in protest of Line 3.

In our video below from a month ago, she describes why tar sands is dangerous:

“Tar sands is like the peanut butter oil; and that’s the scraping at the bottom of the barrel there. They’re gonna desecrate even more wild rice lakes out here, the manoomin we call, otherwise known as the wild rice, it’s the food that grows on water and that’s what I depend upon, my family depends upon, my tribe depends upon.”

On February 24, 2021, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council wrote to Governor Walz, “as the elected leaders of the federally recognized Indian Nations in the state of Minnesota with one voice in solidarity with Red Lake and White Earth’s request to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to stay the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline.”

As you are aware, the decision of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which green lighted the pipeline construction, is currently on appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals . . .

Enbridge is now furiously constructing the pipeline, literally at five separate locations along the route in effort to construct as much of the pipeline as possible before the appellate court considers the substantive issues of the appeal. It is very frustrating to us that the PUC failed to grasp the severity of the living tribal cultural resources that are being damaged by the pipeline construction, as well as the PUC’s apparent inability to recognize the irreparable harm that will result to the environment.”

Minnesota Indian Affairs Council

In addition, an online petition by liberal climate group 350.org has garnered almost 250,000 signatures demanding President Joe Biden stop the Line 3 project.

During the Wednesday commemorative rally, a water protector spoke of the real-time connections of current struggles:

“With the approaching trial of Derek Chauvin, we uplift the interconnectedness of the struggle to protect treaty rights, clean waters, sacred space and Indigenous sovereignty with the right of all people to live in a world free of oppression and destruction of the earth.”

Water Protector

Photographs used in our feature collage taken by Giniw Collective.

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