Yesterday a group of political extremists broke into an Enbridge pipeline facility in Minnesota and attempted to turn off two oil pipelines. Specifically the company’s Line 3 and Line 4 pipelines, which have a combined capacity of over half a million barrels of oil per day.
The company is in the process of replacing the former of those two lines, a construction project which has come under intense political scrutiny from left wing activists.
The group in a statement said it turned off the valves of three of the pipelines. Besides Yildirim, the group said the other participants were Michele Naar Obed of Duluth, Allyson Polman of Texas and Brenna Cussen Anglada of Wisconsin.
Diane Leutgeb Munson, a spokeswoman for the group, said it was her understanding that the protesters contacted Enbridge before turning the valves for safety reasons and “to give Enbridge the opportunity to turn it off themselves.”
The protesters claimed on their Facebook page that Enbridge’s Line 4 had been off for 45 minutes.
It’s not clear that the protesters had any idea what they were doing at all. They claim to have shut down three pipelines, but a statement from the GAIN Coalition – a pro-pipeline group – says it was two. That number jibes with other reports.
Enbridge, meanwhile, is understandably mum about specifics given that these extremists now consider tampering with pipeline infrastructure to be a valid tactic. Here’s their statement, which I received via email:
Today’s pipeline tampering incident put people and the environment at risk.
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.
While, we respect the rights of individuals to safely express their views on the energy we all use, we take these matters very seriously and support the prosecution of all those involved.
You don’t have to take my word for it when I say these activists are bumbling idiots. Watch their own video of their efforts to turn the valves:
“I’m just more afraid of climate change than I am of prison,” one of those extremists is quoted as saying in a New York Times profile which paints this “valve turner” movement as something heroic.
That’s terrifying. Environmental activists are justifying, as a part of their political cause, increasingly violent and dangerous activism which puts lives and property at risk.
Here in North Dakota, where we experienced this extremism first hand, state Senator Janne Myrdal, a Republican, has introduced a bill which would seek to hold the groups which organize these sort of stunts criminally responsible along with the activists who perpetrate them.
Some of the language of the bill needs cleanup, but the concept is worth pursuing. If a political group organizes and supports criminal activity which puts people in danger, that’s organized crime.
Anti-pipeline activists have 1st amendment rights. They can advocate whatever political stance they wish. But they do not have the right to damage property.
They do not have the right to put the rest of us at risk.