ST. PAUL, Minn. – A legislative hearing for Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline turned heated when an environmental lobbyist threatened violence if the project was allowed to continue.
Last month, the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee held a hearing for a bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau) that would authorize construction of the pipeline. The Line 3 replacement project has been under review by the state since 2015, with the Public Utilities Commission expected to make a final decision on the project this summer. Fabian’s bill, if passed, would end the review process and green-light the project.
Irene Folstrom, Great Lakes Program Coordinator for the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, testified at the hearing, threatening violence if the Line 3 project was allowed to go forward.
“If it is approved through the Public Utilities Commission’s process, that pipeline is not going to get built,” Folstrom said, insinuating violence would shut down construction on the line.
Folstrom said approving the pipeline project is “inviting more violence.” Folstrom compared the Line 3 project to riots that broke out at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site, implying that Minnesota will face even greater uproar.
“If you think that was horrible, and had a negative impact, approve this pipeline and keep approving bills like this and you will see,” Folstrom said.
Committee Chair Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) pressed Folstrom on how opponents of the pipeline would prevent construction, noting they would be going against the rule of law if the pipeline was approved. Folstrom avoided addressing the unlawful nature of her comments, instead continuing to double down on her threat saying they will be “met with violence.”
“We have worked hard on this to try to convey the message and plead with you please don’t approve the pipeline because you will be met with violence,” Folstrom said. “We have been trying to prevent this from happening. We know it’s going to happen.”
Garofalo called out Folstrom, saying he did not hear a plea against building the pipeline, but heard “somebody trying to instigate violence.” Folstrom denied trying to instigate violence, claiming the legislators proposing the legislation in favor of the pipeline are the ones instigating violence.
Watch the heated exchange below: