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Four people were arrested in Minnesota yesterday for attempting to shut down an oil pipeline operated by Enbridge, the Associated Press reports, citing a spokeswoman for the group as saying they had called Enbridge to warn them about their plans, but never got to carry them out because the company shut down Line 4 remotely.
The group is part of an organization called Catholic Workers and, according to a statement, its members resorted to attempted pipeline sabotage because they felt it was “time to take personal responsibility for preventing the dangerous expansion of the oil industry, because governments and regulators have failed to do so.”
A Minnesota spokeswoman for Enbridge, on the other hand, said, “The actions taken to trespass on our facility and tamper with energy infrastructure were reckless and dangerous. The people involved claimed to be protecting the environment, but they did the opposite. Their actions put themselves, first responders, neighboring communities and landowners at risk.”
Indeed, energy companies have been as vocal in their warnings to activists to steer clear of attempts to shut down pipelines as activists have been vocal about their fear of oil spills and protest against the construction of any new pipelines.
Line 4 is not being targeted for the first time, either: the AP recalls a lawsuit that ended last year, when a Minnesota judge dismissed charges against three environmental activists who tried to shut down both Line 4 and Line 67, also in Minnesota, on the grounds that the prosecution had not presented convincing evidence of any harm done.
The ruling did not exactly make the defendants happy, however. A lot of activists and their legal advisers have been eager to use a new defense argument dubbed necessary defense in courts. In this case, however, they never got to do this. The necessary defense argument refers to a perception of harm being done to the environment, which required action on the part of the activists.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.