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Protesters want a pipeline project shut down in Minnesota. Some damaged the site and forced workers out, the company says

Actress and climate change activist Jane Fonda speaks to CNN's Brianna Keilar about the negative effects of the Trump-approved pipeline projects and how they contribute to the global climate change crisis.

Posted: Jun 9, 2021 5:30 AM
Updated: Jun 9, 2021 5:30 AM

Indigenous leaders and more than 1,000 protesters including actress Jane Fonda marched Monday to the Mississippi River where an Enbridge Energy oil pipeline upgrade project is underway to cross the water in northern Minnesota.

Protesters chained themselves to equipment and blocked entrances at the pipeline construction site, CNN affiliate KVRR reported. New sections of pipeline and added capacity are set to cut through some of the most pristine woods and wetlands in North America.

"There is absolutely no question that President (Joe) Biden can shut down the pipeline," Fonda told the crowd. "There is no question."

Permits for the work -- in an area known as Line 3 -- issued last fall by the US Army Corps of Engineers are the subject of ongoing litigation in state and federal courts, a White House official told CNN on Tuesday.

"The Biden administration is firmly committed to ensuring that under this administration, tribal consultation is robust and tribal concerns are heard," the official said.

Protesters on Monday damaged the work site and prompted the evacuation of more than 40 employees, Enbridge Energy said.

"The destruction done today by protesters is disheartening. We respect everyone's right to peacefully and lawfully protest, but trespass, intimidation, and destruction are unacceptable," the Canadian company said in a news release. "44 workers were evacuated from the site, including ten employees of Native owned contractor Gordon Construction from the White Earth Reservation."

There were about 200 arrests, activists from Treaty People Gathering tweeted, though the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office did not immediately confirm the tally. Actress Taylor Schilling also was among those in the protest crowd.

"People here are going to bear the biggest front of this pipeline. This nation needs to end its dependence on fossil fuels. But more importantly, it needs to honor its agreements it made long ago with Indigenous people, and I am here to support that," Schilling told KVRR.

Enbridge is not like Keystone XL, company says

Enbridge's multi-billion dollar project involves upgrading existing infrastructure on Line 3, the company has said. Overall, the pipeline dates to the 1960s and extends about 1,100 miles from Edmonton, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin.

"Line 3 is not like the Keystone XL pipeline," Enbridge Chief Communications Officer Mike Fernandez told CNN in March, referring to a planned pipeline that Biden killed during his first hours in office.

The Enbridge pipeline "already exists. And it already is an energy lifeline for literally millions of people in the US and in Canada. And the reality is, even as we see great growth in renewables, we're still going to need some fossil fuels 40 years to come."

The Enbridge project workforce includes more than 500 Native workers, the company has said.

"So far protests have had relatively little impact on construction which is on track across five different construction zones working simultaneously along more than 330 miles replacing Line 3 in northern Minnesota. The project is on schedule to be complete and in service in the fourth quarter of this year," Enbridge said in its release.

Prior protests at the site led to more than 100 arrests, tribal attorney and activist Tara Houska told CNN in March.

"They seem to think that it's going to deter us from protecting the land. They are fundamentally missing the point of what water protectors are doing, which is willing to put ourselves our freedom, our bodies, our personal comfort on the line for something greater than ourselves," Houska said.

CBP investigating low-flying helicopter at protest

At one point during Monday's demonstration a Customs and Border Protection helicopter flew at a low altitude over the protesters, according to Minnesota Public Radio. The helicopter's rotor wash kicked up a large cloud of dirt, dust and debris.

The helicopter made multiple passes over the site, MPR reported.

"CBP's headquarters is investigating the facts to determine precisely what occurred and whether the actions taken were justified," a CBP spokesperson told CNN. "All appropriate actions will be taken based on the facts that are learned, including with respect to the incident itself as well as the agency's applicable policies and procedures."

The helicopter was brought in to issue a dispersal order, said the Northern Lights Task Force, the law enforcement collaborative overseeing the police response, in a statement on Facebook. "The idea was to provide the order in a manner that everyone would be able to hear."

"Unforeseen to local law enforcement and due to the extremely dry conditions, dust kicked up in the area," the task force wrote. "As soon as helicopter staff saw what was happening, they immediately left the area to ensure no further issues would be caused. This was not an intentional act to cause discomfort or intended as a dispersal mechanism."

The Biden administration is "aware of the situation with the helicopter and we fully support the right for people to peacefully protest," the White House official said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 611458

Reported Deaths: 7753
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1267881800
Ramsey53242911
Dakota47375477
Anoka43381465
Washington27752296
Stearns22721227
St. Louis18312319
Scott17735139
Wright16589153
Olmsted13557103
Sherburne1217196
Carver1077049
Clay830192
Rice8270111
Blue Earth772144
Crow Wing690599
Kandiyohi671785
Chisago628254
Otter Tail591787
Benton587198
Goodhue486474
Douglas479581
Mower478234
Winona465052
Itasca463368
Isanti446967
McLeod435461
Morrison428562
Beltrami411463
Nobles410650
Steele401619
Polk391172
Becker389657
Lyon365854
Carlton357158
Freeborn352634
Pine337923
Nicollet334645
Mille Lacs315556
Brown309040
Le Sueur300528
Todd288833
Cass288633
Meeker266644
Waseca241223
Martin237333
Roseau212421
Wabasha20843
Hubbard198841
Dodge19053
Renville184046
Redwood178641
Houston175916
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165223
Fillmore160010
Faribault157220
Chippewa154138
Pennington154120
Kanabec148028
Sibley147410
Aitkin139837
Watonwan13629
Rock129419
Jackson123112
Pipestone117226
Yellow Medicine115420
Pope11406
Swift107618
Murray107410
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89417
Marshall89017
Lake84620
Wilkin84013
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned49193
Red Lake4037
Traverse3835
Lake of the Woods3494
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 376815

Reported Deaths: 6122
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk59215646
Linn21567342
Scott20530250
Black Hawk16850320
Woodbury15378230
Johnson1479586
Dubuque13627215
Dallas1150699
Pottawattamie11393177
Story1092548
Warren594392
Clinton565894
Cerro Gordo564898
Webster546397
Sioux520574
Muscatine4956106
Marshall493679
Des Moines481776
Jasper454273
Wapello4402124
Buena Vista432340
Plymouth405782
Lee396958
Marion372378
Henry301737
Jones301357
Bremer294663
Carroll287252
Boone273735
Crawford273541
Benton264255
Washington261051
Dickinson251145
Mahaska235151
Jackson225943
Kossuth222166
Clay217927
Tama213872
Delaware213343
Winneshiek201337
Buchanan197834
Page195722
Cedar194323
Hardin192544
Wright191240
Hamilton189251
Fayette188943
Harrison182873
Clayton173258
Butler169135
Madison168019
Floyd165242
Mills164724
Cherokee162238
Lyon161241
Poweshiek159836
Allamakee156452
Hancock154034
Iowa149124
Winnebago147031
Calhoun144813
Cass142155
Grundy139733
Emmet137341
Jefferson135535
Sac133320
Shelby132238
Louisa130749
Union129535
Franklin129223
Appanoose128749
Mitchell127343
Chickasaw126017
Humboldt126026
Guthrie125332
Palo Alto115224
Montgomery106938
Howard105522
Clarke102624
Monroe101533
Keokuk100432
Ida93735
Adair90132
Davis88525
Pocahontas87022
Monona86731
Greene80011
Osceola79517
Lucas78323
Worth7648
Taylor67112
Decatur6649
Fremont64910
Van Buren57318
Ringgold57124
Wayne56623
Audubon53613
Adams3504
Unassigned80
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