Protests prompt Minnesota regulators to postpone Line 3 meeting

Machinery sits next to some of the pipeline that will be used in Line 3's reconstruction. Timm Bruch / Global News

Minnesota regulators postponed a meeting Tuesday on Enbridge’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.

PUC Chairwoman Nancy Lange recessed the meeting but eventually cancelled 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.”

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READ MORE: Religious leaders in Minnesota oppose Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 pipeline project

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In a statement, Enbridge said it was “unfortunate that a small group of people derailed” the meeting. The Calgary-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.”

READ MORE: Enbridge reaches deal on Line 3 pipeline project with Indigenous group in Minnesota

Line 3 runs from Alberta, across North Dakota and Minnesota, to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wis. 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 Indigenous groups and environmental activists contend the new line risks spills in fragile areas.

READ MORE: What you need to know about Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline proposal

Watch below: In August 2017, Kent Morrison filed this report about the Line 3 replacement project and the optimism it is generating in Alberta.

Click to play video: 'Optimism growing in Alberta town over Enbridge’s Line 3 project'
Optimism growing in Alberta town over Enbridge’s Line 3 project

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