Citizens protest Enbridge pipeline expansion

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On Nov. 2, Native Americans, environmentalists and other concerned citizens joined to protest the expansion of Enbridge oil pipelines in Minnesota, which they say threatens the land and water.

A feast and rally began at noon at the Washington Center, followed by a march down Lake Avenue. The march then detoured into Duluth Technology Village, where Enbridge Energy has an office.

Protesters maintained a noisy but nonviolent presence at Enbridge with drums and chants before police arrived and asked them to leave. Seven protesters remained and were arrested, ticketed for trespassing and released. The march ended with a rally at Minnesota Plaza at Lake Avenue and Superior Street.

Enbridge’s Sandpiper line would run across North Dakota and northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisc. Protesters called on Enbridge to consult with tribes impacted by the expansion plans and invest in clean energy.

According to Shannon Gustafson, media relations manager for Enbridge in Duluth, the company has invested $4 billion in renewable and alternative energy projects since 2002, nearly half of that in the last three years. “More than 800 Enbridge employees and contractors live and work here. Just as it is for everyone, protecting the environment, wildlife and habitats is important to us,” she said.

Construction on the Sandpiper was supposed to begin in 2016, but it has been stalled in court by Native American and environmental groups. In September the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that an environmental impact study was required. In October the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission put a decision on hold, pending more court decisions.

Other Enbridge projects in northern Minnesota are the Line 67 upgrade and Line 3 replacement.

Groups involved in the protest included Honor the Earth, MN350, Native Lives Matter and Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.

Video by Rebecca Bischoff.