LANSING, MI —-Citizens organizations in Michigan are calling on local and state officials to reject the private funding of public law enforcement after a national ABC News story on Monday revealed that Enbridge, a private Canadian firm, is funding law enforcement in Minnesota near a disputed oil pipeline.
“Michigan’s local community law enforcement should not be turned into Enbridge’s private security force,” said Sean McBrearty, Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign coordinator. “Local Michigan communities who are offered money by Enbridge to pay police should, as a matter of policy, reject the overture the same as they would a bribe.”
Enbridge paid more than $2.9 million to Minnesota law enforcement through a state-managed escrow account, according to ABC News public records requests. The majority of the funds were used to support patrols along Line 3's construction path through indigenous territory. Line 3 has caused a widespread public outcry as well as questionable police tactics such as the use of flash bangs, rubber bullets, and mace against protesters.
Enbridge paid for local police salary, training, transportation, food, and lodging in Minnesota, including a three-night visit at a beach resort where rooms cost $725 per night. Meanwhile, Enbridge-funded local police shared information on protesters with the company.
National media attention on Enbridge’s Minnesota law enforcement funding comes as the FBI, Michigan State Police, and Tuscola County sheriffs investigate an Oct.19 Line 5 action by individuals forcing a temporary shut down of Line 5 by breaking into a valve station. While Oil & Water Don’t Mix and others have criticized the unsafe valve station action, Enbridge has also been faulted for its slow response to the incident.
According to its website, Enbridge spent nearly $1.4 million on funding local public safety and other initiatives in Michigan. Enbridge has not disclosed how much funding, if any, was directed to local law enforcement but in March local officials in northern Michigan reported there were no financial arrangements at that time with Enbridge to fund law enforcement.
Under former Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan allowed Enbridge to fund state-sponsored studies of its controversial Line 5 oil pipeline used by Enbridge to justify a proposed oil tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac. In documents obtained by Oil & Water Don’t Mix under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it was also revealed that in 2020 the chair of the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority repeatedly sought to have Enbridge take over funding of the authority’s expert consultants. The Authority was created by the Legislature to provide public oversight for Enbridge’s proposed tunnel project, which must still be green-lighted by federal and state permitting authorities.
Both instances involved state-sponsored escrow accounts, the same tactic used by Enbridge in Minnesota to fund local law enforcement.
“Michigan should reject any corporate request to use our law enforcement officers as private security,” said Dr. Aaron Payment, Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. “A foreign corporation has no business using our tax paid public resources for their private agenda against Michiganders.”
Oil & Water Don't Mix, founded in 2013 at the Straits of Mackinac, is a Michigan's citizens campaign to shut down Enbridge Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac and protect the Great Lakes from oil pipelines. Our coalition is led by Native American tribes, local grassroots civic and environmental groups, and statewide organizations and powered by 71,000 supporters from across the Great Lakes State and beyond.
Oil & Water Don’t Mix Steering Committee
Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA), Clean Water Action, FLOW (For Love of Water), Groundwork Center for Resilient Families, League of Women Voters of Michigan, Michigan Climate Action Network, Michigan Environmental Council, Northern Michigan Environmental Council, Sierra Club, Straits Area Concerned Citizens for Peace, Justice & the Environment, Straits of Mackinac Alliance, TC350