Activists shut down cross-border oil pipelines

Activists shut down cross-border oil pipelines
© Getty Images

Environmental activists shut down numerous pipelines carrying heavy crude oil from Canada into the United States to protest the oil industry.

Protesters with the group Climate Direct Action said at least nine activists were arrested for disrupting the operations of five oil pipelines Tuesday, often tampering with the equipment.

ADVERTISEMENT

The disruptions were carried out in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which is fighting construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on lands in North Dakota that it considers sacred.

But they were also protesting the industry in general, pushing for massive cuts to or elimination of the extraction and use of fossil fuels like oil and natural gas.

“Activists employed manual safety valves, calling on President Obama to use emergency powers to keep the pipelines closed and mobilize for the extraordinary shift away from fossil fuels now required to avert catastrophe,” Climate Direct Action said in a statement.

The activists targeted Enbridge Partners’ lines 4 and 67, TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone, Spectra Energy’s Express Pipeline and Kinder Morgan Inc.’s TransMountain.

The pipeline companies denounced the protests as illegal and dangerous. Each company shut down the flow of the pipelines at issue, if they were operating.

“We respect the rights of others to discuss our business in a safe, respectful and lawful manner, but this morning’s activities at our valve site in Leonard, Minn., are unacceptable,” Michael Barnes, spokesman for Enbridge, said in a statement.

“These are criminal acts that endanger the public and the environment. We take this very seriously and will support prosecution of all those involved,” he said.

“Safety is our number one priority,” said James Millar, spokesman for TransCanada, which owns a facility in North Dakota that protesters allegedly broke into. “Vandalism which attempts to sabotage our equipment or interfere with operating machinery, poses a risk to the public, our employees, those who broke into our facility and to the environment.”

Spectra said the protesters tampered with a valve in Montana on the Express Pipeline.

“Tampering with energy infrastructure places both the community and the environment at risk,” the company said. “This pipeline provides a vital source of affordable, reliable energy to fuel the everyday lives of Americans.”

Kinder Morgan was not operating the segment of the TransMountain pipeline where it said protesters trespassed in Washington state, but it is nonetheless inspecting the line.