Yesterday, October 9th, Judge Robert Tiffany dismissed the case against three environmental activists who were charged with damaging an Enbridge Energy pipeline in northern Minnesota in 2016. After trespassing onto the property, activists cut the chains and locks bound to the pipeline valve, shutting off the flow of as much as 500,000 gallons of oil.
The recently acquitted activists have celebrated the case’s dismissal, having been lauded by environmentalists and anti-energy outlets across the country. One of the activists has even contended she feels as if she no longer needs “to be so careful about committing other acts of civil disobedience” since she has been acquitted and is not ruling out practicing civil disobedience in the future. This leniency enables activists to push the envelope and see just how far they can advance their risky tactics. And unfortunately, we’ve seen some of these dangers reach our own backyard – with anti-Bayou Bridge protesters chaining themselves to construction cranes and tree-sitting in “aerial pods” along the project route. Clearly, with L’eau Est La Vie activists expressing support for the “valve turners” ruling, similar tactics are top of mind for protesters in Louisiana.
Protesters have the right to peacefully protest. However, protesters should not have a pass to break the law, damage critical energy infrastructure, and put workers and nearby communities at risk. Here in Louisiana, anti-energy protesters’ dangerous tactics risk the safety of workers, responding law enforcement, and the protesters themselves. Pipelines have proven to be the safest and most efficient method of delivering energy products to consumers, yet protesters continue to vehemently oppose their safe construction by all means. Moving forward, one thing is clear: illegal activities and dangerous behavior should not be supported by anyone with Louisiana’s best interests in mind.