The protest group “Stop Line 3” blocked the entrance to Enbridge’s Clearbrook office during a Monday demonstration and asked for “generous donations” to its cause.
The protesters erected a 30-foot tripod out of three large poles in front of the entrance gate and had one peer climb to the top of it in order to complicate any law enforcement efforts to stop the demonstration. Sara-Beth Anderson, the woman who suspended herself from the top of the contraption, blockaded the entrance for more than four hours.
Stop Line 3 claimed that police began to saw off one of the legs of the tripod, putting Anderson “in serious danger.” She was later arrested for trespassing on a critical public service facility, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
“I am a diver and love the ocean with all of my heart,” Anderson said in a statement. “The destruction of the sacred is happening because of these terrible decisions to keep extracting, to keep harming the earth despite what climate science has told the world’s leaders.”
Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson said the protesters put Anderson in “more danger” than the police because the poles they used “were pretty rotten at the top.”
“So with her even hanging up there, she could have fallen,” said Halverson, who explained that police planned to cut small portions of the poles at a time in order to gradually lower Anderson to the ground.
Stop Line 3 live-streamed the entire demonstration and asked for donations to its “legal defense fund,” which has raised $2,540 so far. The protest group organized a similar protest in August outside of Enbridge’s Bemidji offices where six protesters chained themselves to the front gates.
Members of a different group of protesters were arrested in January after they disabled an Enbridge pipeline in northern Minnesota.
Republican lawmakers said Monday’s protest “put lives in danger” and distracted law enforcement officers from their more serious obligations.
“Today, protesters blocked an entrance to the Enbridge facility in Clearbrook, forcing our law enforcement to deal with them instead of helping the public on a day that has been quite hazardous with slick roads,” Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids) said in a press release. “These protesters claim to be water protectors, but their actions show that they are radical activists more focused on trying to raise money than anything else.”
State Rep. Matt Grossell (R-Clearbrook) called the protest an “elaborate fundraising scheme” in a Monday statement.
“The only thing accomplished today was reaffirming the fact Line 3 opponents will never accept the reality that we need this project. Instead, they are now left to try stunts like this that put others at risk,” he said.
Enbridge received unanimous approval from the state’s Public Utilities Commission in March 2018 to begin reconstruction of Line 3, but the company has faced a number of setbacks ever since. The Minnesota Court of Appeals took issue with Enbridge’s environmental impact statement in an early June ruling.
Enbridge maintains that Line 3, which stretches across northern Minnesota, is in a constant state of disrepair and needs to be replaced. The company argues that the replacement project has undergone “the most extensive environmental study of a pipeline project in state history.”
Protesters, on the other hand, claim that the replacement project will contribute to global warming and expose more lakes and rivers to possible oil spills.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison recently joined an amicus brief in support of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s effort to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 oil and gas pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Line 3 Protests” by Stop Line 3.