Four protesters were charged Wednesday with tampering with an Enbridge pipeline site in Itasca County earlier this week.
Appearing in Itasca County District Court on the charges were Brenna Anglada, 40, of Cuba City, Wis.; Michele Naar, 62, of Duluth; Allyson Polman, 26, of Denton, Texas; and Daniel Yildirim, 32, of Viroqua, Wis. They were all released from jail and are scheduled to return to court on Feb. 19. Each of them face counts of felony aiding and abetting attempted damage to pipeline property and misdemeanor aiding and abetting attempted criminal damage to property.
The protesters, who call themselves the Four Necessity Valve Turners, posted a video to their Facebook page showing their efforts to close valves on Enbridge’s pipelines along Hwy. 2 at noontime Monday.
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 the company the opportunity to turn the valves off. The protesters, wearing hard hats and safety vests, initially claimed on their Facebook page that Enbridge’s Line 4 had been off for 45 minutes. Enbridge declined to confirm that any of its pipelines were shut down.
Yildirim, in a statement to law enforcement after his arrest, said he and the others locked themselves inside the fenced area and cut a lock off a pipeline valve, according to the charges.
However, they failed to turn off the tar sand oil flow “due to the fact they had not brought the correct tool,” the charges read.
Enbridge runs six pipelines across northern Minnesota to its terminal in Superior, Wis., the largest conduit of Canadian oil into the United States. The company’s $2.6 billion plan to replace its current Line 3 in Minnesota with a new pipeline has been hotly challenged.
The Four Necessity Valve Turners described themselves on their Facebook page as a group in the tradition of the Catholic Worker movement that is taking a stand against the “climate crisis” brought on by oil use.
State regulators approved the new Line 3 in June, though the company still needs several state and federal environmental permits. Enbridge plans to get construction going this spring in time to finish by November. The current Line 3, built in the 1960s, is corroding and can be operated at only 51 percent of capacity for safety reasons.
Environmental groups and some Ojibwe bands have opposed the new pipeline, saying it would exacerbate climate change and expose a new region of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and wetlands to possible environmental damage from oil spills.