The Line 3 Public Safety Escrow Account has paid out more than $7 million dollars to country sheriffs, fire departments, and the Department of Natural Resources, as of Feb. 12. Enbridge funded the escrow account to reimburse public law enforcement for Line 3- related expenses they incurred.
The PUC turned down very few requests, according information obtained from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) through a state data practices request. Law enforcement agencies got paid for pretty much everything they asked for, including payments for routine patrols of Line 3 work sites.
The PUC denied at least $106,000 in reimbursement requests. (Lack of details in the PUC response made it difficult to identify all rejected charges.)
Several reimbursement requests jump out.
First, the Hubbard County District Attorney submitted a bill for $27,400 to cover costs for Line 3-related prosecutions.
The PUC denied the claim as outside the escrow account’s scope. Still, how did the expectation of reimbursement affect the District Attorney’s prosecuting decisions against Indigenous peoples and others opposed to the pipeline? Did it provide incentive to go after them harder, as the office thought it could do so at no cost?
Second, it seems that some law enforcement agencies saw the escrow account as something of a Christmas tree with presents underneath.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office submitted a bill for $18,563 for Live Scan Fingerprint Equipment. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office submitted a bill for $9,616, most of which was for six TVs for its Emergency Operations Center. Some departments sought escrow account payments for new trailers.
While the PUC denied these claims, the question remains: How did Enbridge’s Sugar Daddy relationship with law enforcement affect policing decisions?
Lastly, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office submitted a bill $1,719 for “less lethal munitions” it said it used during a mutual aid response July 28 – Aug. 1 against Line 3 resisters. The request included 1,000 PAVA Pepper Shot Standard ($950); 1,000 PAVA inert impact rounds ($500), and an aerial flash bang ($36).
The PUC denied the claim. Still, something’s wrong when public safety officials are asking Enbridge to foot the bill for pepper spray rounds against Indigenous people and others opposed to the pipeline.
Here, in alphabetical order, is more information on reimbursement denials. Agencies have until April 1 to submit, or resubmit, reimbursement requests
Baxter Police Department: Submitted a bill that included a request for $312 for 13 wooden batons, with “Knurled Grip & thong.” Batons are not an eligible expense under the Public Safety Escrow Account.
Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office: The Escrow Account Manager denied:
- A $4,523 reimbursement request for a trailer
- A $1,552 request for temporary portable canopies.
- A $5,230 request for equipment such as holsters, helmets and gas mask canisters. They were eligible expenses and ordered during Line 3 construction. Because of delays in delivery, some or all weren’t invoiced until after Line 3 construction was complete. That made them ineligible for reimbursement.
- Some small items from a Walmart purchase were rejected.
Carlton County Fire Department was denied a $1,975 reimbursement for its response to a Line 3 incident Oct. 4. As it occurred a day after the project was deemed complete, it wasn’t an eligible expense.
Cass County Sheriff’s Department was denied reimbursements for:
- $18,563 for Live Scan Fingerprint Equipment
- $3,396 for cutting tools
- $3,393 for a cargo trailer
Fargo/Moorhead Ambulance Service was denied $2,340 for an incident response in 2021 for lack of documentation, as of Feb. 11. It could resubmit the bill with the documentation.
Hubbard County Attorney’s Office was denied $27,400 in Line 3-related prosecution costs. Prosecution costs are not eligible under the Public Safety Escrow Account rules.
Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office was denied nearly $16,000 in reimbursement requests:
- $8,690 for jail boarding fee (information lacks detail: Appears to be charges from Crow Wing County to house overflow Hubbard County inmates)
- $4,133 for bunk beds
- $1,071 for stackable chairs
- $1,020 for mattresses
- $996 for jail clothing and other supplies
The City of Kennedy was denied reimbursement for trailer equipment. Not clear from invoice with multiple items what cost was denied, appears small.
The City of Park Rapids was denied some equipment reimbursement. Documentation is unclear about the amount denied.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office was denied more than $20,000 in reimbursement requests:
- $9,616 for various equipment, mostly for TVs and installation costs for the Emergency Operations Center.
- $4,120 for a trailer, hitch (ball and receiver), lock, etc.
- $3,290 for “Medlite Transport Basket for side by side for victim removal.
- $1,933 for a Honda generator
- $959 for sawzal blades, wrenches, and other equipment.
- $140 for a “Packout Tool Rolling Box.”
There was another line item for $3,923 with several purchases lumped together. Some qualified for reimbursement (fire resistant bibs), others didn’t (reciprocating saw).
City of Twin Valley submitted a $2,143 invoice which hasn’t been reimbursed yet. The bill included $61 for batons, an ineligible expense. The rest of the expenses seemed to meet approved categories.
Washington County Sheriff’s Office was denied reimbursement for providing security during the Treaties Not Tar Sands event at the State Capitol in late August.
In its reimbursement request, Washington County argued the escrow account should cover the costs because of the event’s scale and its connection to Line 3. Documentation doesn’t show how much money Washington County sought.
The PUC said the escrow account only covered law enforcement responses in and around construction sites.
The Winona County Sheriff’s Office appears to have been denied a $138 reimbursement for six wooden batons.
The Wright County Sheriff’s Office was denied reimbursement for $1,718 in “less lethal munitions,” including pepper shot and a flash bang.