MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Protesters made their voices heard in St. Paul Thursday, as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted to move forward with a route for the Enbridge Pipeline.
Among things on the PUC’s agenda was a petition by a group called Friends of the Headwaters, to reconsider the route approved for a new oil line.
As planned, Enbridge’s Line 3 route stretches all the way through the state of Minnesota.
The meeting room was packed with supporters of what’s being called Enbridge’s “new Line 3.” Commissioners voted to deny reconsideration of the route which would run across much of northern Minnesota.
As soon as they voted to continue with the projected route, protesters spoke up and chanted their disapproval, eventually forcing PUC commissioners to leave their seats.
“It comes right through where I live. That conflicts with the treaties as far as my sovereignty goes,” protester Tania Aubid said.
Aubid said the new line will be built just miles from her home, and she believes construction will impact wild rice crops and other tribal traditions.
“That’s what Enbridge is impeding — that healthy growth of wild rice that’s in these lakes up north,” said Aubid.
Anoka County Commissioner Scott Schulte told WCCO that he understands protesters’ concerns.
“Enbridge, along with elected officials along those routes, really believe the environment is the primary concern,” Schulte said.
Supporters of the pipeline say the current oil line in northern Minnesota is old and is subject to failure, putting the environment at risk.
“To get new environmental protection in place, that helps the environment. That helps communities that live up there that are in danger of that old pipeline,” said Schulte.
But protesters say there are better routes than the one that’s been chosen.
Enbridge’s Line 3 still needs regulatory permits from the Department of Natural Resources and other agencies, but they are planning on beginning construction in spring 2019.