BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Local activists may not have been able to travel all the way to Calgary for Enbridge Energy’s annual shareholder meeting, but they still tried to make their position known to those who did.
A small group of protesters gathered outside Enbridge’s local office in Bemidji’s Industrial Park on Wednesday, May 8. Environmental activists took the annual shareholder meeting as an opportunity to reiterate a number of concerns they have with the company’s upcoming Line 3 pipeline replacement project. The pipeline would create a new route to transport oil from Canada to a station in Superior, Wis. In addition to the Bemidji demonstration, similar gatherings took place in Duluth and Superior, Wis., as well as Calgary.
After congregating outside the Bemidji office, the activists spoke with a representative from Enbridge, who stood on the other side of a wire fence that marks the company’s property in the industrial park.
“We are all here united in a desire to not have Line 3 built,” said Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator for the environmental organization MN350.
Several others also spoke at the gathering. Bimi’ji 350 Executive Director Nancy Beaulieu referenced the company’s alleged infringement on Native treaties and the numerous lawsuits against Enbridge.
“You guys are picking profit over people,” Beaulieu said. “We are concerned that your shareholders are being misled with how great Enbridge is.”
Karol Hendricks-McCracken, a retired Lutheran pastor, spoke briefly about how protecting the environment is important to her as a person of faith. Josiah Thompson spoke about how climate change has affected the agricultural industry in places such as Iowa and the Dakotas.
Pearson then asked the representative to pass their concerns up the ladder to the company’s leadership.
Although they didn’t emphasize it much during the actual protest, Pearson spoke beforehand about how Enbridge shareholders should realize it’s not a good decision to support the company’s project.
“We’re working to make the point that Line 3 is not something that shareholders really ought to be excited about right now,” Pearson said. “It’s being sued three different ways; it still doesn’t have its water permits (and) 94% of public comments on the record about the project were opposed to the project moving forward.”
In Superior, a few protesters took a bit more dramatic approach. They set up a giant tripod, and one individual suspended themselves from it, hanging midair far above the heads of the others on the ground.
While local activists simply gathered at the local Enbridge office in Bemidji, Honor the Earth Executive Director Winona LaDuke traveled to Calgary to demonstrate at the actual shareholder meeting.
Enbridge released a statement later Wednesday. The company emphasized the investment it has made in the state’s economy and the fact that the new pipeline will include “advanced monitoring and state of the art construction technology.”
“The apparent motivation for today’s protests -- Enbridge’s routine annual meeting -- is unusual, considering the company has operated safely and contributed to our local economies in Minnesota for seven decades now,” the release said. “We recognized there are different points of view on the energy we all use and support a respectful and constructive dialogue on the issues of climate change and responsible resource development -- issues that affect us all.”