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Pipeline protesters arrested at Enbridge offices in Duluth

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Seven protesters demonstrating against a proposed pipeline across northern Minnesota were arrested in Duluth on Monday, media reports indicate.

The protesters were arrested because they refused to leave private property, KBJR 6 reports.

Police told the Duluth News Tribune that most of the protesters at Enbridge Energy's downtown offices left when asked to do so, but seven who refused were arrested without incident and charged with trespassing.

Rene Ann Goodrich, a member of the Native American Lives Matter Coalition, told the newspaper some of the 75 protesters brought a drum to the Enbridge office and sang two songs as part of their demonstration before they were asked to leave.

KBJR says the protesters want policymakers to stop Enbridge Energy's proposed Sandpiper pipeline, which would run from western North Dakota to a refinery in Superior, Wisconsin.

They also indicated they want a full review of the project's environmental impact, consultation with tribes that hold land in the area, and a transition away from energy derived from fossil fuels like petroleum.

The News Tribune says Enbridge issued a statement that read in part "We encourage active discussions on our operations and projects, as long as everyone is respectful of those who live and work near our pipelines, including our employees and contractors, and of our pipelines and facilities."

The Sandpiper proposal

As proposed by Enbridge, the $2.6 billion Sandpiper line would extend 610 miles and would carry 225,000 barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota's oil fields to Superior.

While environmental groups and other critics worry about the effect a pipeline accident could have on northern Minnesota's fragile wetlands, supporters of the Sandpiper plan argue it's safer than transporting oil on rail cars and say construction of the line would create 1,500 jobs.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) raised some concerns about the route preferred by Enbridge, but was poised to sign off on the need for a pipeline – until an appeals court ruled in September that an environmental review is needed before regulators can take that step.

Last month, Enbridge and the PUC asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to overrule the Appeals Court.

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