WH: Federal officials investigating pipeline shutdowns

WH: Federal officials investigating pipeline shutdowns
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The White House on Wednesday said federal agencies are investing the actions of climate activists who this week broke into pipeline compounds and briefly shut off the flow of oil. 

At least nine activists were arrested Tuesday for tampering with equipment on five oil pipelines, shutting down the flow of oil from Canada.

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Asked about the incident on Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration takes the situation seriously.

“I can tell you that both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation are investigating these reports and trying to get to the bottom of what exactly happened and what potential steps could be taken to ensure the safety and security of our energy infrastructure,” he said. 

“When it comes to the security of our infrastructure, particularly our energy infrastructure, that's something that the United States and this administration takes quite seriously.” 

Two of the activists involved in the shutdowns were charged with felony counts in Minnesota on Wednesday, local newspaper The Forum reports.

The activists were part of the group Climate Direct Action, which said they were acting in solidarity with protesters fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. 

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

Pipeline operators shut down the flow of oil, if the pipelines were operating, in response. The American Petroleum Institute (API) called the actions “criminal conduct.”

“We are deeply concerned about the dangerous efforts by professional agitators to shut off pipelines as their actions present significant risk to human life, communities and the environment,” API Midstream Group Director Robin Rorick said in a Wednesday statement. 

“These extremists do not seem to realize that their actions could harm the environment they are trying to protect and harm human life including their own."