Activists disrupt key Canada-U.S. oil pipelines

Tue Oct 11, 2016 7:58pm EDT
 
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Climate-change activists on Tuesday disrupted the flow of millions of barrels of crude from Canada to the United States in rare, coordinated action that targeted several key pipelines simultaneously.

Activists in four states were arrested after they cut padlocks and chains and entered remote flow stations to turn off valves in an attempt to stop crude moving through lines that carry as much as 15 percent of daily U.S. oil consumption. The group posted videos online showing the early morning raids.

Protest group Climate Direct Action said the move was in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has protested the construction of a separate $3.7 billion pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to the U.S. Gulf Coast over fears of potential damage to sacred land and water supplies.

Officials, pipeline companies and experts say the protesters ran the danger of causing environmental damage themselves by shutting down the lines. Unscheduled shutdowns can lead to a build-up of pressure and cause ruptures or leaks, they said.

The activists had studied for months how to execute the shutdowns safely, said Afrin Sopariwala, a spokeswoman for the group.

"We are acting in response to this catastrophe we are facing," Sopariwala said, referring to global warming.

Police confirmed four arrests, three in Washington state and one in Montana. Protesters were also arrested in Minnesota and North Dakota, the activist group said, after the action early on Tuesday.

The pipelines carry crude produced from Canada's oil sands to the United States. Environmentalists have fought for years to stem Canadian oil sands production, which some call tar sands, in favor of cleaner energy.   Continued...

 
Activists are seen attempting to shutdown oil pipeline valve after cutting chains at a valve station for pipelines carrying crude from Canadian oils sands into the U.S. markets near Clearbrook, Minnesota, U.S., in this image released on October 11, 2016.   Courtesy Climate Direct Action/Handout via REUTERS