Native American business owners slam environmental activists vandalizing construction company in pipeline protest

·4 min read

Native American business leaders slammed environmental protesters who reportedly broke into and vandalized a Native-American-owned company’s construction equipment in an attempt to disrupt the assembly of the Line 3 pipeline.

"This not only created a hardship for our workers, it created additional challenges for our companies," a group of six Native American business leaders said in a statement. "Protests that disrupt work, damage property, and threaten our employees while claiming to be on behalf of our Native people is creating additional tension and consequences within our tribal communities. They also intentionally create a false narrative that there is no Native American support for this project and the economic impacts and opportunities it brings to our people."

Multiple Native-American-owned companies have contracted with Canadian energy firm Enbridge to construct Line 3, a pipeline that is set to carry oil from Canada to the United States. But environmental activists who have been emboldened by the halting of the Keystone XL pipeline have turned their attention to Line 3, with many claiming to have the best interests of Native Americans at the heart of their protests.

Hundreds of activists stormed a construction site owned by a Native American company earlier this month, where they vandalized equipment, broke into trailers, and even caused damage to environmental safeguards that protect against erosion while attempting to trap workers on the site, according to Enbridge.


Matt Gordon, who is the vice president of the company and a member of the White Earth Nation tribe, was stunned by the attack on his company’s equipment. He argued that the protesters do not speak for all Native Americans and that many were white people "shielding themselves with Native Americans."

"I’m a contractor for excavation, and all of my equipment on site was vandalized," Gordon told Fox News. "For the most part, a majority of the people are for the pipeline. Everybody enjoys gasoline and plastic products. The opponents are shielding themselves with Native Americans. Most of the protesters were white. Line 3 has brought back millions of dollars to the reservations."

Over 500 Native American workers are involved in the construction of Line 3, while Enbridge estimates that the impact on the local economy and Native-American-owned small businesses will result in a total of over 5,000 construction jobs.

The $4 billion Line 3 project is being constructed to replace a more outdated pipeline and is slated to run 1,000 miles from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin. Roughly 60% of the 350-mile portion of the pipeline near the Mississippi River in Minnesota has already been constructed.

But Native American lawyer Tara Houska, who is a member of the Couchiching First Nation, has been leading protests against the pipeline for seven years. Houska, who also advised Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign, reportedly told the crowd of protesters that descended on the job site to "protect the sacred" and oppose the pipeline "for our daughters, for our sons, for the animals, for the water."

National climate activists, such as founder Bill McKibben, have also been involved in protesting Line 3, with McKibben saying that the pipeline is the next target after the successful protest of Keystone XL.

"Call Line 3 Keystone, the Sequel," McKibben wrote in a New York Times op-ed. "If Keystone failed the climate test, how could Line 3, with an initial capacity of 760,000 barrels a day, possibly pass? It’s as if the oil industry turned in an essay, got a failing grade, ignored every comment and then turned in the same essay again — except this time it was in ninth grade, not fourth. It’s not like the climate crisis has somehow improved since 2015 — it’s obviously gotten far worse. At this point, approving Line 3 would be absurd."

McKibben said that, much like Keystone XL, "the Biden administration must soon decide" to halt construction on Line 3.

"In an era when officials talk constantly about coming to terms with the dark parts of American history, I doubt Mr. Biden actually wants to sic the cops on Native elders as they sit at the headwaters of one of America’s most storied rivers, on land that, as Native leaders are pointing out, by treaty should fall under Native control," McKibben wrote.


Isaac Orr, a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, argues that environmentalists are falsely presenting Native Americans as a homogeneous group that universally oppose Line 3.

"You cannot make this a classic story of stealing their land to put a pipeline in," Orr said. "Enbridge has committed to making sure the Native Americans were included."

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Tags: News, Pipelines, Native Americans, Environmentalism, Keystone XL, Energy and Environment, Business, Infrastructure, Race and Diversity

Original Author: Michael Lee

Original Location: Native American business owners slam environmental activists vandalizing construction company in pipeline protest