ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meeting on Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline was shut down Tuesday after protesters prevented the meeting from proceeding peacefully.
State regulators gathered in St. Paul on Tuesday to evaluate whether Enbridge had fulfilled additional conditions for the Line 3 project imposed by the PUC in June. The meeting was forced to convene prematurely after pipeline opponents disrupted the meeting.
When the meeting began, protesters sat with their backs turned to the commission. Various messages were pinned to the backs of their shirts, including “Public Utilities Cowards” and “PUC You Turned Your Back On Us.”
Just as the Public Utilities Commissioners turned their backs on Minnesotans, we turned our backs on them when today’s Line 3 meeting started. “Public Utilities Cowards,” “Enbridge Lapdogs,” “Think Seven Generations,” and “PUC You Turned Your Backs on Us.” #stopline3 pic.twitter.com/w3D5TIKoIw
— MN350 (@MN_350) September 11, 2018
The protest quickly escalated when three pipeline opponents pulled out a bullhorn and began to shout down the commissioners. Several protesters gave speeches berating the commissioners, and chants broke out among the group. A video of part of the protest was posted on social media.
PUC chair Nancy Lange called for a brief recess, but the protesters continued when the commissioners returned. When the protesters refused to allow the meeting to proceed peacefully, Lange cancelled the rest of the meeting and said the commission would regroup on a different day.
Enbridge released a statement following the unsuccessful meeting, saying the protesters “crossed the line” by attempting to intimidate the commissioners.
“We acknowledge that the process has been long and difficult and raised many passionate interventions. But what happened today crossed the line,” Enbridge said. “Disrupting the hearing room and attempting to intimidate the Commissioners are not acceptable behaviors.”
This is not the first time pipeline opponents have stirred up controversy over the Line 3 project. Earlier this year, a legislative hearing turned heated when an environmental lobbyist threatened violence if the Line 3 project was allowed to continue.