Gov. Mark Dayton kicked off the first ever Governor's Water Summit Saturday morning at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront. The summit was organized to bring together leaders and community members across the state to discuss Minnesota's water quality.
But Dayton was interrupted soon after he took the stage.
Opponents of the Sandpiper pipeline project joined the governor up front and held signs that read "love water not oil."
The crude oil pipeline would run 616 miles from western North Dakota to a refinery in Superior, Wisconsin.
The project has been protested before by people who argue the pipeline would harm the state's wetlands. Opponents have also asked project organizers to consult with tribes that hold land in the area.
According to some Twitter posts, Dayton offered to meet with the protesters once he finished speaking.
Dayton asked the protesters to leave the stage, WDAZ reports. The station also notes that the governor did meet with them later on in the summit.
More than 800 people attended the Governor's Water Summit to learn about the state's water quality, WDAZ says.
The goal of the summit was to bring together all people who are impacted by – and who themselves are impacting – the water quality so that they can discuss solutions.
The event kicked off with Dayton's opening remarks, followed up with some breakout sessions – people had nine to choose from – then wrapped up with a "Water, Business and Stewardship" panel.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith led the discussion on the role of Minnesota's business community in water challenges. The panel featured George Barclay of Dow Water and Process Solutions, Anita Foster of The Mosaic Company, Raj V. Rajan of Ecolab and more.
Some of the topics discussed include invasive species, sustaining the water supply, water in rural and urban environments and clean water.
Dayton told KSTP people had a lot of interest in the summit and it could become an annual or biennial event.