Cops Let Enviros “Do Their Thing” and Shut Down New Pipeline

The “water protectors” have resurfaced in northwestern Wisconsin, targeting another strategic oil pipeline project. But this time they did it with the tacit acceptance of local law enforcement.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that Douglas County deputies were under instructions to basically stand down Monday, as about two dozen environmental extremists shut down construction of the Enbridge 3 replacement pipeline near Superior, Wisconsin.

Some protesters wore masks covering their faces and could be seen in videos locking themselves to heavy equipment. Others were overheard telling workers to “go home early,” “stop destroying our mother” and “we’re here to protect the water.” They emphasized repeatedly they weren’t there to harm anyone, and deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office were on scene monitoring the protest.

“This non-violent direct action (came) from the heart,” said organizer Neo Gabo Benais, of Onamia, Minn., who allowed the News Tribune access to publish his Facebook comments. “Our planet is perfect, but we are destroying it.”

A video posted on Facebook features an interview with a protester locked down on a crane. Several activists can be seen climbing over sections of the pipeline and heavy equipment  that had been abandoned by workers who saw the enviros coming at the remote forested construction site. Needless to say they weren’t wearing hardhats. Where’s OSHA when you need them?

“We shut that down for the day,” an activist says off camera in the video. “…We’re shutting it down because this isn’t any way, this is a direct action to save our planet, our mother and everything living on it.”

Enbridge gave law enforcement a heads-up about the protest in advance, according to spokesman Jennifer Smith, out of concern for the safety of both workers and the enviros.  The pipeline will replace a 50 year old line that carries crude oil from Alberta to Superior, a significant upgrade in protecting the environment–a fact that’s lost on the protesters.

“Line 3 is a safety and maintenance-driven project — replacing 1960s older, vintage pipeline,” she said. “It is needed, and it is going to keep communities safe.”

She added that protesters were trespassing and that there was damage to equipment, but she would not specify of what sort. No vandalism is visible in any of the social media documenting of the protest.

Douglas County authorities allowed the activists to take over the construction site for approximately two hours without any arrests or repercussions.  Yet Sheriff Dalbec hailed the outcome afterward.

Dalbec said the protesters did not cross a line that would have required greater law enforcement action.

“If they didn’t want to do anything too radical,” he said, “we were going to let them do their thing.”

It’s hard to imagine anything more radical than illegally taking over a multi-billion dollar construction site with heavy equipment and driving off the workers. The question isn’t whether protesters crossed the line but whether Dalbec did in allowing the activists to “do their thing.”