Expenses include everything from ballistic helmets, gas masks and batons to staff mobile field force training
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) Line 3 Route Permit required the company to establish a “Public Safety Escrow Account” to reimburse state and local law enforcement for additional public safety costs they incurred around Line 3’s construction.
The proposed Line 3 route crosses more than a dozen counties. The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office is the first law enforcement agency to submit reimbursement requests. More are sure to follow.
Healing Minnesota Stories obtained copies of multiple invoices submitted by the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office to the PUC; they total $189,000. Reimbursement requests fall in three main buckets: equipment purchases, staff training, and responses to Line 3 water protectors.
Some Betrami County expenses date back to 2016. Others are recent.
Equipment: The county’s biggest request — $132,000 — is for equipment. It spent $26,851 for “Cache Radio” batteries to support communication in the field. It spent $25.36 for a box of fine-point sharpies to write on wrist bands, presumably for people who are arrested.
Here are examples of line-item expenses from various invoices:
- $14,840 for gas masks: 28 at $530 each
- $12,000 for voice projection units for gas masks, 30 at $400 each
- $14,790 for 39 “PPE” protective suits, between $375 and $390 each
- $11,170 for “ballistic helmets” and $4,250 for 38 face shields to attach to them.
- $11,078 for protestor extraction, including a trailer, band saw, chain saw, grinder, and generator, and a chain saw safety class.
- $4,095 for shields, 39 at $105 each
- $1,220 for batons: 61 at $20 each
- $835 for a mobile booking unit and supplies
- $78 for a megaphone
Here’s one sample invoice.
Staff Training: The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office is requesting $41,600 to reimburse wages of staff who attended Mobile Field Force Training, Field Force Extraction Tactics and similar trainings to prepare them to respond to protests. It appears that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided the bulk of the training. Beltrami County Sheriff staff traveled to Alabama, Stillwater and Fargo for various courses.
Protest Responses: So far, Beltrami County has asked for less than $5,000 for costs it incurred responding to water protectors resisting Line 3. It’s requesting:
- $1,266 for staff and mileage to assist Clearwater County with removing and arresting a water protector in a tripod on Nov. 25, 2019.
- $1,268 for staff and mileage to assist Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office in extracting “two female demonstrators” who had locked down to equipment on 300th Street off Highway 71 on Nov. 18.
- $1,693 for staff and mileage to assist the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office respond to a Dec. 14 protest.
(In addition, there’s roughly another $3,000+ requested for meetings and report filing, and $7,900 for staff attending various unspecified events in 2020.)
Per the PUC’s order, Enbridge puts money in the Public Safety Escrow Account; a financial institution acts as trustee. The PUC’s executive secretary and public safety liaison determine which expense are eligible for reimbursement. It’s supposed to be an arm’s length transaction. Still, everyone knows where the money comes from, and it likely buys Enbridge some good will with law enforcement.
Healing Minnesota Stories will post periodic updates of Public Safety Escrow Account requests.
Comment: Water protectors also seek financial help. It’s typically things like gas money, food, warm clothes, winter tents, and bail money.
MN350’s Pipeline Resistance Team is running a front-line support drive. Here is a link with current requests. People can drop of food, gear or cash donations at the MN350 office, 4407 E Lake St. Minneapolis, all month. Drop off times are Tuesdays and Fridays 9 am – noon; and Saturdays 10 am – 1 pm. (They have freezer space and can accept frozen items.) Outside office hours drop-offs, contact Bernadette firstname.lastname@example.org
Protect the Water, Revoke the Permits! event set for Friday, Jan. 29
People opposed to Line 3 will gather Friday, Jan. 29, 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Kellogg Park in St. Paul. The group will walk from there to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office. The Corps issued a Clean Water Permit Enbridge needed to proceed with construction.
According to the Facebook event: “We will make our voices heard and demonstrate to the powers-that-be that we will not allow business as usual to carry on unanswered.”
“Indigenous Water Protectors and allies are putting their bodies on the line to disrupt construction of Line 3 — let’s show them that they don’t stand alone. Family friendly, masks and social distancing expected of all attendees, and bring art/warm clothes. See you there!”
The event is being sponsored by MN350, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, Science for the People, and Minnesota Youth Climate Strikes. Please share.
An earlier version of this blog had an incorrect number for the reimbursement request. It is $189,000. The amount spent on responding to protests also was incorrect. The number is less than $5,000.