MINNEAPOLIS -- Two protesters climbed trees at a Mississippi River crossing Friday to stand in the way of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline construction, which began earlier this week across northern Minnesota.

The protesters, who call themselves “water protectors,” mounted the protest among an Aitkin County forest set to be logged as “direct blockades to the attempt by Enbridge to drill Line 3 under the Mississippi River.”

“Water is not invincible. That’s why I am here,” said 22-year-old Liam DelMain of Minneapolis in a statement released by Giniw Collective. “I am here, putting my body on the line, because I have been left with no other choices.”

The Giniw protest is the first along the pipeline’s route since construction began this week.

Enbridge received the last of its permits this week after six years of review and legal battles. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission also voted 4-1 Friday against a motion to stay, or pause, the project. The Red Lake Band of Chippewa and the White Earth Band requested the stay last week.

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The 340-mile pipeline would carry an average of 760,000 barrels of oil per day between Alberta and the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis. It would replace the 50-year-old Line 3, which is operating at half capacity due to its age and condition, but take a largely new route through the state.

Construction began on Tuesday and is set to employ more than 4,000 people at its peak.

Opponents say the influx of workers could lead to increased spread of COVID-19 in rural areas at a time when the virus is already straining resources around the state.