Oct 22, 2017 - Water Protectors Shut Down Public Hearing on Enbridge’s Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2017
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Indigenous Women Excluded, Public Hearing Shut Down RE: Line 3 Replacement Pipeline
DULUTH, MINNESOTA: At around 8:30pm the night of October 18th, members of the Makwa Initiative and other concerned citizens shut down the public hearing on Enbridge’s Line 3 Project at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
“The crowd got lively after the judge repeatedly refused to let indigenous women speak [if she thought they had already spoken],” Yes Magazine Photographer Rob Wilson said. “People called into question if she knows every speaker from memory and why the white Enbridge Employees could talk twice”.
The next day Enbridge claimed that “one extremist group hijacked the entire meeting unprovoked”, calling the opponents to the pipeline “intimidating and disrespectful”.
Those of us at Makwa Initiative would like to denounce this rhetoric as an attempt by a fossil fuel corporation to demonize non-violent acts of public expression and intimidate pipeline opponents.
From the start, Enbridge has tried to force this pipeline down our throats. First, they initiated pre-construction operations in Minnesota without having obtained the required Environmental Impact Statement. Now Enbridge are laying down pipe in Canada and Wisconsin, coming towards us from both sides, while having the audacity to state at Public hearings that they are still considering a no-build alternative.
On the day of the Duluth Public Hearing, we arrived to find that Enbridge and their contractors had blocked off most of the parking lot with cranes, heavy equipment, and even trucks carrying actual pipes. When asked why they were blocking dozens of parking spaces with their equipment, a pipeline worker laughed and responded “Come on! What’s the problem? We paid for it”.
When we tried to enter the hearing, Duluth City Police barred the door to the hearing, claiming it had reached capacity. Enbridge had filled the room with so many employees that the public was no longer being allowed in. After three hours of being unable to enter the hearing room to challenge the testimony of pipeline supporters, the room was finally opened to the rest of the public, while Enbridge employees not speaking were asked to go to the adjacent breakout room. At the evening part of the hearing, police refused to let in multiple native people, claiming that drums, traditional jingle dresses, and eagle staffs were not permitted inside.
Members of Makwa Initiative know that occupying space is as much about power and voice as it is about speaking into a microphone, and it is vital that the public has a claim to where testimony is heard. Our experience both in Duluth and at prior hearings has been that the hearing process is unfairly claimed and dominated by pro-pipeline interests.
At every hearing, Enbridge employees in yellow shirts are bused in. At a recent hearing in Grand Rapids, we spoke to an Enbridge construction worker who admitted that he was being paid to attend. The company provides these employees with talking points and pre-written speeches. There have been cases in which different employees read out the same materials and fact sheets prepared by Enbridge word for word.
Sometimes Enbridge executives pose as concerned citizens with no connection to the company. On multiple occasions, Department of Commerce representatives and Judge Riley have had to pause hearings to stop Enbridge executives and high-level managers from making public comments. The judge reminded them that there is an entirely separate evidentiary hearing process during which official representatives can submit testimony and pose questions to one another, and asked them to refrain from submitting their names to testify at public hearings. Enbridge disregarded these requests and at the Grand Rapids hearing on October 10 company executives tried to testify again. Subsequently, in Duluth on October 18, another senior-level employee, Jennifer Maleitzke, approached the microphone when her name was called, and attempted to direct questions at fellow stakeholder Richard Smith of Friends of the Headwaters. Maleitzke attempted to hide that she was an Enbridge employee, claiming she was ‘just a contractor’, but was subsequently asked not to speak when Smith and others recognized her as an Enbridge team member.
We refuse to let our voices go unheard in this process. Enbridge claims a near-impeccable pipeline safety record but has in fact been responsible for hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled each year in the last three decades. We applaud Michele Naar-Obed for testifying in Duluth and highlighting the violations Enbridge has already wrought on the environment. We resist Enbridge’s attempts to buy its permits and oppose the unilateral force with which they are attempting to determine our environment’s future.
We are not the “extremists” in the room.
Fro more information go to Makwa Initiative – Line 3 Frontline Resistance