Protesters demand jury trial in court, say Enbridge should face - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Protesters demand jury trial in court, say Enbridge should face prosecution

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DULUTH, MN -

Three protesters arrested for trespassing at Enbridge's Duluth office say, they're excited to see their day in court.

A protest documented on Facebook live back in December, landed Michele Naar-Obed, Donna Howard and Mark Hakes in court Thursday afternoon.

"We will take our trespass charge in a criminal court and we will use the judicial system to use its powers to stop Enbridge's illegal activity," Naar-Obed said.

She claimed the three were simply trying to deliver a citizens complaint to Enbridge under the grounds they believe Enbridge has several fraudulent storage permits.

"Enbridge is currently illegally stockpiling pipes in at least eleven staging areas in six counties across Northern Minnesota," Howard said.

Their claims come down a box checked on Enbridge's application for their storage yards.

The protesters claim it's evidence Enbridge falsely claimed their environmental review for Line 3 was complete and approved.

In a statement to KBJR 6, Enbridge spokeswoman Shannon Gustafson, called their accusation misleading.

"Pipeyards were issued in compliance with applicable regulations at the time. The permits for the Line 3 Replacement Project's pipeyards were obtained prior to the September 2015 Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling that activated the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act's (MEPA) applicability to the Project," she said.  "Thus, at the time of Enbridge's pipeyard permitting application in the Spring and Summer of 2015, MEPA did not yet apply.  Statements to the alternative are simply not true and blatantly misrepresent the applicability of regulations at that time."

She continued saying, Enbridge consulted with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on the project and based on the work the two organizations conducted together, the company chose to check that box.

"These permits were obtained after Enbridge completed environmental survey and due diligence work for each yard to ensure no resources were directly impacted," she said.

According to Howard, the protesters heard a similar defense when they walked into Enbridge's office.

"The project director defended both the pipeline and the staging of the pipes," she said. "We therefore felt obligated to stay in the office to express the magnitude of our concerns about potential environmental disaster."

That's when the three, calling themselves the Endbrigades, were arrested for trespassing, the charges they hope to use to bring their evidence to light.

"We're not guilty of a crime. We're guilty of not doing enough to stop the criminal pipeline," Howard said.

The three who pleaded not guilty say they're prepared for the legal battle ahead. 

Meanwhile, Enbridge continues to face a long road ahead for the future of the Line 3 project, still awaiting final approval. 

According to Enbridge, the Public Utilities Commission will likely not make a final decision on their environmental review until April.

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