Workers descend on northern Minnesota to build pipeline
PALISADE, Minn. (AP) — More than 4,000 workers are expected in northern Minnesota over the next couple weeks to build the contentious Line 3 oil pipeline replacement.
Opponents of the pipeline have escalated their efforts to block construction, while local law enforcement is focused on keeping the peace. Authorities said 22 protesters were arrested Monday after they blocked equipment and refused orders to disperse, the Star Tribune reported. Most of the arrests were for misdemeanor trespassing on a posted construction site.
Construction has ramped up quickly on Line 3 since Enbridge Energy received its final state and federal permits late last month. So too have the protests of activists determined to stop work on the pipeline, at least until legal challenges can be heard in court, Minnesota Public Radio News reports.
In Aitkin County, just north of the tiny town of Palisade, construction workers are clearing a wide path through the forest near the Mississippi River to make way for the new pipeline.
Aitkin County Sheriff Dan Guida said he respects the passion that both sides bring to the project.
“We want the people here to be safe. We want the people to be heard, we want to support their First Amendment (rights), we want to support their freedom of speech, we want to support all that,” Guida said.
Line 3 begins in Alberta, Canada, and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing Minnesota on its way to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The replacement segments in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin are already complete, leaving only the 337-mile (542-kilometer) stretch in Minnesota.