Pipeline Protesters Watching, Waiting

Protesters say they won't give up their fight to stop the flow of oil through Minnesota and other states.

Two activists from Seattle who were arrested last fall for trying to shut off the Enbridge pipeline in Minnesota will be back in court next month, but a judge will allow them to appear via telephone.

On Oct. 11, the activists attempted to close down the operation near Clearbrook. The Clearwater County Sheriff’s department arrested Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein. Both women say they knew they would be arrested and even waited for officers to arrive after turning off the valve.

Klapstein says she doesn’t want to go to prison, but she says scientists have proven rising temperatures are harming the Earth.

“If we go above two degrees, it’s pretty much guaranteed collapse of human civilization, and if we go another degree or two, we start running into human extinction,” she states. “So it’s absolutely my duty to do anything I can to turn that around.”

Klapstein and Johnston were arraigned this month on four charges each, including damage to public property and trespassing.

Protests and arrests across many states

The Climate Disobedience Action Fund says a total of nine activists and film crewmembers were arrested on the same day last October in Minnesota, Washington, Montana and North Dakota.

Charlie Thayer, a board member of the environmental group MN350, was part of last week’s protest in St. Paul over the Dakota Access Pipeline. He says the $3.8 billion plan to build a 1,100 mile pipeline to carry fracked oil from the Bakken fields violates a federal treaty from 1851.

The pipeline would cross under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Reservation, and Thayer says it could pollute sacred water and cultural sites. He calls the decision to cross tribal lands “environmental racism.”

“They moved the pipeline from where it was initially supposed to be, north of Bismarck, to north of Standing Rock because they were afraid of the potential of a spill and harm to the water of people of Bismarck,” he states. “And so they moved that pipeline to north of Standing Rock because, frankly, they don’t care. They think our people are expendable.”

Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not allow completion of the pipeline until there has been more research into how it would hurt the environment.

Thayer calls it a temporary victory, and says protesters won’t stop their efforts to make sure construction doesn’t destroy the Native Americans’ sacred land.

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