Environmentalists handcuff themselves to Enbridge office gates in Bemidji, work halted

Updated: August 19, 2019 06:48 PM

Early Monday morning, six activists locked themselves to the gates of a key Enbridge office in Bemidji in protest of a proposed tar sands pipeline project Line 3, according to the environmental activist group, Stop Line 3. 

Two activists were reported to have chained their necks to the gate, risking personal safety in protest of the pipeline. 

A spokesperson from the group Stop Line 3 said there are more than 50 people protesting Monday. The $2.6 billion replacement pipeline would carry Canadian crude from Alberta across northern Minnesota to Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge says the current Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, is subject to corrosion and cracking.

Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner says a vehicle drove through a locked gate at a pipe storage yard in Hubbard County over the weekend. It's unknown if that's related to the protest.

Enbridge responded to the protest by closing their office for the day.

"While Enbridge respects the rights of others to express their views on the energy we all use, criminal acts of unlawful protest like sabotage, vandalism, trespassing and occupation of pipeline facilities have the potential to cause serious harm—not only to the perpetrators, but also to nearby communities, the environment, local landowners and the employees who maintain these facilities.  These acts also divert the attention of regional law enforcement from others who need their help and attention." Enbridge said in a statement. 

Stop Line 3 says with wild rice season nearing, Anishinaabe people willl take to their canoes to harvest the sacred food that is at the heart of their culture. Enbridge reportedly plans to send tar sands through dozens of wild rice watersheds, which Stop Line 3 says will irrevocably impact their growth and survival. 

Environmental and tribal groups say the project risks oil spills in pristine areas of the Mississippi River headwaters region.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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