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Line 3 protesters stall PUC meeting in St. Paul

ST. PAUL — A Minnesota Public Utilities Commission meeting to consider certificate of need modifications for Enbridge Energy's Line 3 oil pipeline Tuesday, Sept. 11, in St. Paul ended abruptly after being disrupted by pipeline opponents.

The protesters, who describe themselves as water protectors, sat with their backs turned to the commission for the first hour of discussion with shirts that read "Public Utilities Cowards" on the back.

After a short break in the meeting, the PUC returned to discussion, but were shouted down by opponents in attendance and took another recess.

"We are here, and we are going to resist," one yelled.

When the PUC returned to the hearing room about a half-hour later, opponents again shouted over their discussion.

"What do you do when your water is under attack? Stand up; fight back," they chanted.

PUC chair Nancy Lange then called for another recess and said the commission would reconvene another day.

In late June, the five-member PUC unanimously granted the project a certificate of need, but requested Enbridge make additional compliance filings on the parental guarantee for environmental damages, landowner choice program, decommissioning trust fund, neutral footprint program and general liability and environmental impairment liability insurance.

In July and August, the Minnesota Department of Commerce raised concerns with the liability insurance and the decommissioning trust fund.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Enbridge said the meeting's disruptions and postponement were "unfortunate."

"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."

The meeting has yet to be rescheduled.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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