Protests intensify over proposed northern Minnesota pipeline

- Soon after the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, environmental activists are resisting plans for a new project that would run from Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, through northern Minnesota.

Cell phone video captures protesters climbing on construction equipment in Superior, the end point of a planned pipeline by Enbridge Energy.

Six of the protesters were arrested, a sign that opposition to the pipeline continues to grow more intense.

Enbridge Energy has said it understands that people want to voice opposition, but Barry Simonson, a project director, urges caution.

“We’ve seen individuals climbing up on equipment, shutting down the work, and climbing up on the pipe that’s being suspended by booms,” he said. “So it’s unsafe.”

This is just the latest round of protests again the pipeline. Earlier this year, groups gathered at the State Capitol.

Honor the Earth is among the groups that urge Minnesota regulators not to approve the company’s request to complete the pipeline.

“They’ve still begun construction on the Wisconsin side and in Canada, they’re basically building around us” said Tara Houska, director of Honor the Earth. “To me, that indicates a company that does not care, and thinks they’re going to get approval in this process.”

A series of protests continue through the weekend, including a concert in Moorhead that featured Bonnie Riatt and the Indigo Girls.

On Saturday, one group of young people wrapped up a more unique form of protest.

“They have canoed from the headwaters of the Mississippi River,” said Houska. “Where the pipeline wants to go through, and they are arriving in Sandy Lake today.”

Two base camps have been set up along the proposed route in Minnesota. Hauska says she hopes Minnesota doesn’t follow the example of North Dakota when officials approved the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“That was the response they got,” she said. “Thousands and thousands of people resisting. And I really hope that Minnesota makes a better call.”

The Enbridge pipeline would replace an existing and aging line carrying tar sands oil from Alberta through the middle of Minnesota to northern Wisconsin.

Minnesota plans to make a final decision in April 2018. Enbridge said it is committed to completing the pipeline as soon as it receives regulatory authority to do so.

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