A Minnesota Public Utilities Commission meeting to consider certificate of need modifications for Enbridge Energy's Line 3 oil pipeline Tuesday in St. Paul ended abruptly after being disrupted by pipeline opponents.
The protestors, who describe themselves as water protectors, sat with their backs turned to the commission for the first hour of discussion with shirts that read "Public Utilities Cowards" on the back.
After a short break in the meeting, the PUC returned to discussion, but were shouted down by opponents in attendance and took another recess.
"We are here, and we are going to resist," one yelled.
When the PUC returned to the hearing room about a half hour later, opponents again shouted over their discussion.
"What do you do when your water is under attack? Stand up, fight back," they chanted.
PUC chair Nancy Lange then called for another recess and said the commission would reconvene another day.
In late June, the five-member PUC unanimously granted the project a certificate of need, but requested Enbridge make additional compliance filings on the parental guarantee for environmental damages, landowner choice program, decommissioning trust fund, neutral footprint program and general liability and environmental impairment liability insurance.
In July and August, the Minnesota Department of Commerce raised concerns with the liability insurance and the decommissioning trust fund.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Enbridge said the meeting's disruptions and postponement were "unfortunate."
"We acknowledge that the process has been long and difficult and raised many passionate interventions. But what happened today crossed the line," Ebridge said. "Disrupting the hearing room and attempting to intimidate the Commissioners are not acceptable behaviors."
The meeting has yet to be rescheduled.