Before walking less than a mile to Klobuchar’s office, the group sang a song that included the refrain, “We will stop Line 3. The people and the water will flow free.”
Line 3 would carry Canadian tar sands oil and regular crude from Alberta and across North Dakota and Minnesota to Wisconsin. The project is nearly done except for the Minnesota leg, which is about 60% complete.
Thursday's small gathering came on the heels of the largest resistance yet to the project, when at least 1,000 marched to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, one of the pipeline protesters, and nearly 250 people were arrested for shutting down an Enbridge pump station in the area on Monday.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals is expected to rule next week in a major legal challenge to the project. Opponents, including the state Department of Commerce, are seeking to reverse the decision by the state's independent Public Utilities Commission to grant the certificate of need and route permit. They contend that Enbridge's oil demand projections failed to meet the legal requirements. Enbridge and the PUC say the projections complied.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the appeals court heard oral arguments in a separate challenge. The issue is whether they should invalidate a decision by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency last November to grant a water quality certification for the project that was a precondition for Enbridge getting its wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers later that month.
The opponents are challenging the wetlands permit in federal court and hope a decision by the appeals court to void the Minnesota agency's certification will help strengthen their case against the federal permit. But attorneys for the Minnesota agency and Enbridge argued that the case was moot because the Corps already issued the permit.
Associated Press reporter Steve Karnowski contributed to this story.