Honor the Earth rallies at Enbridge offices; Group opposed to proposed Sandpiper pipeline
BEMIDJI -- An environmental group opposed to the future Sandpiper oil pipeline held a rally Thursday... at the Bemidji offices of the energy company planning to operate the pipeline.
Honor the Earth, opposed to the multi-billion dollar pipeline proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge Energy, held a rally/press event just outside Enbridge's offices in the city's industrial park.
Enbridge proposes running Sandpiper from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to refineries in the Twin Ports area and others. Enbridge's proposed route runs between between the small northwest Minnesota town of Clearbrook to Superior, Wis. However, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency have raised environmental concerns about Enbridge's route and advocated for the study of alternates. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is expected to make a ruling on the route in the future.
Thursday's rally was one of the last events in the "Love Water Not Oil Tour," Honor the Earth's 200-mile horseback journey across northern Minnesota in protest of Sandpiper.
About 30 to 40 people attended the rally, which went off mostly without incident. There was no apparent police presence, although some Honor the Earth supporters were on Enbridge property. However, at one point Michael Dahl, a Honor the Earth supporter from White Earth, rode a horse to within a few feet of a door to the Enbridge facility. He then rode around the parking lot, lightly striking the hoods of Enbridge vehicles with a staff.
His horse partially collapsed while traversing the parking lot's asphalt, but the animal got back on its feet.
During her remarks earlier, Honor the Earth leader Winona LaDuke said the protest was designed for Enbridge to better know those impacted by the proposed pipeline.
"Immense corporations make decisions and they don't know the faces of the people they will affect," LaDuke said. "I wanted Enbridge to see my face."
Speaking to the Pioneer after the rally, LaDuke said group members would be traveling next week to oil fields in North Dakota.
Enbridge spokesperson Becky Haase commented on the protest in an email earlier Thursday afternoon to the Pioneer.
"Enbridge recognizes the rights of people to express their views legally and peacefully and discuss Enbridge's business and projects," Haase said. "We encourage active discussions on our projects; as long as there is no danger to our pipelines or anyone's safety. Enbridge will continue to actively engage in dialogue with communities and individuals in areas where we have operations."
A Bemidji woman was arrested and cited with misdemeanor trespassing in April 2013 while protesting at the same building as Thursday's rally. Angie Palacio, 35, was one of more than two dozen people protesting against pipelines crossing Red Lake Nation lands.