MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — About 100 people gathered at a Minneapolis park Thursday before marching to Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office to promote shutting down reconstruction of an aging oil pipeline in northern Minnesota.
The half-hour program at Gold Medal Park included singing and speeches by activists insisting that Klobuchar pursue at least a delay on the final segment of the Enbridge Energy Line 3 project. One prominent opponent, Winona LaDuke, founder of the Indigenous-based environmental group Honor the Earth, mentioned Klobuchar by first name on several occasions and said the senator should demand a more thorough environmental impact study for the project.
“You need to be the woman who stands up for the water, Amy," LaDuke said.
Opponents of Enbridge's more than $7 billion project to replace Line 3 say it would add to the growing climate change problem and risk spills in sensitive areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, hunt, fish, gather medicinal plants, and claim treaty rights. Enbridge says the new Line 3 will be made of stronger steel and will better protect the environment while restoring its capacity to carry oil and ensure reliable deliveries to U.S. refineries.
Marco Hernández, a community organizer and member of Gov. Tim Walz’s climate change council, criticized the Democratic governor and Klobuchar for “turning a blind eye” on the hazards of the project. The pipeline’s path through Native American lands is “breaking not just one, but multiple treaties,” he said.
Before walking less than a mile to Klobuchar’s office, the group sang a song that included the refrain, “We will stop Line 3. The people and the water will flow free.”
Line 3 would carry Canadian tar sands oil and regular crude from Alberta and across North Dakota and Minnesota to Wisconsin. The project is nearly done except for the Minnesota leg, which is about 60% complete.
Thursday's small gathering came on the heels of the largest resistance yet to the project, when at least 1,000 marched to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, one of the pipeline protesters, and nearly 250 people were arrested for shutting down an Enbridge pump station in the area on Monday.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals is expected to rule next week in a major legal challenge to the project. Opponents, including the state Department of Commerce, are seeking to reverse the decision by the state's independent Public Utilities Commission to grant the certificate of need and route permit. They contend that Enbridge's oil demand projections failed to meet the legal requirements. Enbridge and the PUC say the projections complied.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the appeals court heard oral arguments in a separate challenge. The issue is whether they should invalidate a decision by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency last November to grant a water quality certification for the project that was a precondition for Enbridge getting its wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers later that month.
The opponents are challenging the wetlands permit in federal court and hope a decision by the appeals court to void the Minnesota agency's certification will help strengthen their case against the federal permit. But attorneys for the Minnesota agency and Enbridge argued that the case was moot because the Corps already issued the permit.
Associated Press reporter Steve Karnowski contributed to this story.