Minnesota Regulators Postpone Line 3 Meeting After Protests

FILE: Protest against the Enbridge Line 3 replacement in Minnesota.

Enbridge Line 3 meetings postponed after protests erupt

Minnesota regulators postponed a meeting Tuesday on Enbridge Energy’s planned Line 3 replacement after pipeline opponents disrupted the meeting with a bullhorn and a boombox.

Protests erupted as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met to discuss whether Enbridge met conditions earlier imposed by the panel. The PUC approved the project in June, giving Enbridge a green light to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across Minnesota.

Opponents in the back of the PUC hearing room took out a bullhorn and made speeches aimed at the commissioners, the Star Tribune reported.

“You should all be ashamed,” one protester said.

PUC Chairwoman Nancy Lange recessed the meeting but eventually canceled it when a protester playing music on a boombox refused to turn it off.

Several opponents sat with their backs facing the commissioners. Their shirts featured slogans such as “Enbridge lap dogs.”

In a statement, Enbridge said it was “unfortunate that a small group of people derailed” the meeting. The Canadian-based company said the conditions that were up for discussion were intended to “protect Minnesotans.”

“We acknowledge that the process has been long and difficult and raised many passionate interventions. But what happened today crossed the line,” Enbridge said.

State Rep. Dan Fabian, a Roseau Republican who chairs the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, also criticized the protesters.

“Minnesota is better than this nonsense,” Fabian said in a statement. He called on Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, the PUC and local law enforcement “to do whatever necessary to prevent disruptions like this from happening in the future.”

Line 3 runs from Alberta, Canada, across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge wants to replace the line, which it built in the 1960s and is running at only about half its original capacity. The replacement would restore its original capacity. But Native American and environmental activists contend the new line risks spills in fragile areas.

By The Associated Press

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Spirit of the Buffalo camp aims to stop Enbridge pipeline at Canada-U.S. border

Protesters near Gretna, Man., are camping near the point where the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline crosses the border. (Patrick Foucault/Radio-Canada)

Spirit of the Buffalo camp set up Wednesday near Gretna, Man.

An Indigenous prayer camp has been set up near the Canada-U.S. border along the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline in an effort to stop construction of its replacement.

There were five people at the Spirit of Buffalo camp near Gretna, Man., 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg, shortly after noon Wednesday.

Geraldine McManus, a Dakota two-spirit person at the camp, says they can see the crews working on the pipeline on the U.S. side of the border, where the pipeline replacement received approval on June 28.

“We’re standing about 10, 15 feet away from them, so we’re putting ourselves right on the line,” McManus said. “We’re not letting them cross into Canada.”

Enbridge is replacing its Line 3 pipeline from Hardisty, Alta., to Superior, Wis. (The Canadian Press)

The Enbridge Line 3 replacement has received approvals in Canada and construction has begun in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Construction in Manitoba is anticipated to start in August and facilities construction in the right-of-way has already started, an Enbridge spokesperson said.

Enbridge officials say the pipeline, which was built in the 1960s, is deteriorating and needs to be replaced. Current capacity is 390,000 barrels per day, but the new 36-inch pipeline will restore it to its former capacity of 760,000 barrels per day, the company says.

The original 34-inch pipeline will be deactivated and left in place, which Enbridge says causes less damage than removing it.

Line 2 Maintenance

Company officials are aware of the protest camp, an emailed statement says.

“A number of individuals are observing our Line 2 maintenance work site near the Canada-U.S. border. Safety of our workers and others present near the site is our Number 1 priority,” says the email from an Enbridge spokesperson.

“Enbridge respects people’s right to express their views safely and in accordance with the law.”

McManus, who was part of the Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2017, says the group arrived at their camp site at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“I just grabbed a group of people really fast and just said, ‘You know what? We can’t wait no more,'” she said.

The group, which is receiving support from the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, has lit a sacred fire and there’s continuous prayer.

“What we’re doing right now is just holding space,” McManus said.

A farmer has told them they are near a firing range where people shoot toward the encampment, but they aren’t moving, McManus said: “They’re going to have to drag me off here and I don’t know how they’re going to be able to do that.”

The land they are on is Crown land and Indigenous land, she says, and Indigenous people have been given the task of protecting the part of the world they call Turtle Island.

“The earth that I walk on right here, this is my mother. I love her, I respect her and I’m going to protect her in any way that I have to,” McManus said.

The government needs to stop dealing with corporations that are destroying the water and the earth, McManus says.

“Politicians are pushing it through for the sake of money,” she said.

“What are we going to do with all that money when we have no more clean water, when Mother Earth is so polluted from these spills and all these leaks in these pipelines?”

Indigenous people fighting to protect the land have allies of every nationality, McManus says.

“We just all, as Canadians, need to get in front of this line,” she said.

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Appeals Court Allows ‘Necessity Defense’ for Pipeline Protesters in Minnesota

Climate activists Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein shut down Enbridge’s tar sands pipelines 4 and 67 in Minnesota on Oct. 11, 2016. Climate Direct Action

Enbridge pipeline protesters claim threat of climate change made civil disobedience necessary

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that four anti-pipeline activists facing criminal charges have a legit case to argue the “necessity defense” in court.

According to EcoWatch, the so-called “Valve Turners” Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein were charged after shutting off the emergency valves on a pair of tar sands pipelines owned by Enbridge Energy.

The pipelines targeted were Enbridge line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota.

Johnston and Klapstein, and the two defendants who filmed them in October 2016, argue their actions to stop the flow of the polluting bitumen from Canadian tar sands fields to the U.S. were justified due to the threat of climate change and had no legal alternatives. They plan to call expert witnesses who will back them up.

Prosecutors had challenged the decision to allow the “necessity defense” arguing its inclusion would confuse a jury and be less likely to result in a conviction, but the Court ruled 2-1 against them. The state can ask the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

While District Judge Robert Tiffany allowed the necessity defense, he also warned in a ruling in October that the four must clear a high legal bar to succeed.

Another hurdle is that the jury will come from a sparsely populated county where Enbridge is a major employer and the largest property taxpayer.

Johnston and Klapstein face felony charges of criminal damage to critical public service facilities and other counts.

Attorneys expect the judge to set trial dates for sometime this summer in Clearwater County.

The necessity defense has worked for climate activists before.

Last month, a Massachusetts judge found 13 activists who were arrested for sitting in holes dug for a pipeline to block construction “not responsible by reason of necessity” because the action was taken to avoid serious climate damage.