The most important beneficiary of an Enbridge-funded account for policing Line 3 development is the Minnesota Division of Pure Assets — an company that additionally regulates the controversial oil pipeline.
The DNR obtained $2.2 million, or 28 % of the $7.7 million that Enbridge has doled out to native and state businesses for public security prices related to constructing Line 3, based on knowledge from the Minnesota Public Utilities Fee (PUC).
The PUC required Enbridge to fund a state-administered escrow account when it accepted the corporate’s practically $4 billion, 340-mile pipeline throughout Minnesota. Pipeline opponents protested alongside the route for a number of months till Line 3 was accomplished within the fall.
The DNR policed the protests together with a number of different legislation enforcement businesses. However it uniquely regulates soil and water points tied to Line 3, and Enbridge wanted a allow from the DNR earlier than it started development.
“There’s a great battle of curiosity,” mentioned Winona LaDuke, head of Minnesota-based Honor the Earth, an Indigenous environmental group.
“The DNR is being financed by Enbridge and but they’re there to watch Enbridge and implement pure assets legal guidelines,” she mentioned. “The DNR protected Enbridge, not the individuals of Minnesota.”
In an announcement, DNR Deputy Commissioner Barb Naramore mentioned “the DNR’s public security work was carried out on behalf of the individuals of Minnesota, not Enbridge.”
“At no time did the chance for reimbursement for our public security work in any means affect our regulatory selections. The DNR’s allowing and public security roles are completely distinct, and work is finished by totally different workers in separate divisions.”
The PUC’s public security fund was geared toward defending cities and counties from being deluged with massive payments for policing the pipeline protests, which have been anticipated after a six-year regulatory battle over Line 3.
The most important recipient of cash from the Line 3 escrow account after the DNR was the Minnesota State Patrol, which obtained $1.5 million. In line with the PUC, the subsequent largest, so as, have been the county sheriff’s departments for Cass, $907,507; St. Louis, $360,623; and Aitkin, $355,393.
The fund reimburses many sorts of bills. The DNR submitted a invoice for $351,000 for “private protecting gear” from toe heaters and wool garments to “riot” chest protectors and pouches for fuel masks, PUC information present.
The DNR additionally was reimbursed for about $870.000 in compensation to officers who responded to protests at development websites — and one other $157,000 to managers of the company’s enforcement arm.
And the DNR turned in a $715,000 invoice for coaching its officers to deal with protests.
Policing for Line 3 drew county and metropolis police from all through the state. Roughly 1,000 “water protectors” — as Line 3 opponents name themselves — have been charged primarily with trespass, illegal meeting and public nuisance.
Anti-pipeline teams have mentioned the escrow fund created a public safety pressure of kinds for Enbridge — a competition hotly denied by each the corporate and legislation enforcement businesses and the DNR.
The DNR has been beneath hearth for months over Line 3 from environmental teams and a few Ojibwe bands. Final summer time, the DNR allowed Enbridge to maneuver 5 billion gallons of water alongside the pipeline development route — up from 510 million within the firm’s unique allow.
Critics mentioned the sheer quantity of water transferred might endanger the ecosystem close to the pipeline, together with wild rice beds, and much more so throughout final summer time’s drought.
Pipeline opponents additionally criticized the DNR for apparently not discovering till June — and never publicly disclosing till September — that Enbridge crews in January 2021 had pierced an underground aquifer close to Clearbrook whereas constructing the pipeline.
The DNR ordered Enbridge to pay $3.3 million and repair the harm. The corporate missed a deadline in October and paid a further $40,000. At the moment, regulators estimated that no less than 50 million gallons of groundwater had flowed out for the reason that accident.
Enbridge fastened the leak in January. The DNR mentioned Friday it continues to watch the location though it has accomplished its investigation of the matter.
The brand new pipeline changed Enbridge’s present Line 3, which was corroded and operated at solely 50% capability for security causes. The brand new Line 3 partly follows a brand new route, which environmental teams and Ojibwe tribes say opened one other area of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams to contamination from oil spills.