Dueling protests as regulators hold hearings on the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline

The pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada across North Dakota and Minnesota.

Susie Jones
June 18, 2018 - 1:24 pm

Susie Jones / WCCO Radio

There were two camps set up outside the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission building in St. Paul on Monday as regulators launched two days of hearings on Enbridge Energy’s proposal to replace its deteriorating Line 3 pipeline — those for the project and those against.

The pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada across North Dakota and Minnesota. Those opposed are concerned about harmful effects on the environment, and held signs saying “Water is Sacred, No Pipeline.” Supporters  say it will bring jobs to the state and had their own signs saying “Minnesotans for Pipeline 3.”

Inside, company spokesperson Eric Swanson talked about the benefits.

“Replacement is consistent with the protection of the natural environment. Again, this is a safety and integrity driven project,” he said.  

Nancy Noor with Jobs for Minnesota, an advocacy group for business interests, of which Enbridge is a member, also spoke in favor of the proposal.  

“We have an excellent opportunity to protect the environment by replacing this 65-year-old pipeline,” she said.  

Those opposed to the pipeline waved blue flags to show support for speakers on their side, including Winona LaDuke, an environmental activist with the White Earth Band.

“If you approve this pipeline and you continue down this scorched earth path, it is basically the equivalent of saying let us permit 50 more coal generators in this country,” she said.

Susie Jones / WCCO Radio

Eoin Small was one of those opposed.  “If we compromise these water sources we’re going to end up like Flint, Michigan. I’m one of the people that considers myself a water protector, not a protester,” he told WCCO Radio.  

Police stood by but the meeting was not interrupted by protests. The PUC is expected to make a decision late this month on whether the project is needed and its route.