Climate activists say they’ve shut down all five pipelines carrying tar sand oil from Canada to the US. Operating in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Washington state, the activists manually turned off the pipelines’ safety valves as an act of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, according to an online statement. That tribe and others have been protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which was supposed to carry crude oil across four states.
The group claims to have shut down Enbridge's Line 4 and 67, TransCanada's Keystone pipeline, Spectra Energy's Express pipeline, and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline. The pipelines were shut down by 7:30AM PST, the statement said. An Enbridge spokesperson confirmed that a valve station near Clearbrook, Minnesota, had been tampered with, according to Reuters. But it’s unclear if the pipeline has been shut down. In a statement emailed to The Verge, Ali Hounsell, a spokesperson for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, confirmed that this morning "reckless trespassers" broke into a location on Trans Mountain's Puget Sound pipeline system in Washington state. Local authorities responded, the statement reads, and arrested three individuals. "We are conducting a thorough inspection to ensure the integrity of the pipeline system," Hounsell concludes.
Spectra Energy confirmed to The Verge that a valve on its Express Pipeline had been tampered with this morning in Montana and that the company had shut down this section of the pipeline "as a cautionary measure." "Our first concern is for the safety of the community and the environment, and tampering with this important U.S. energy infrastructure will not be tolerated," Spectra Energy's spokesperson Creighton Welch wrote in a statement emailed to The Verge. "This pipeline provides a vital source of affordable, reliable energy to fuel the everyday lives of Americans." We called TransCanada and we’ll update this story if they respond.
The activists are now calling on President Obama "to use emergency powers to keep the pipelines closed and mobilize for the extraordinary shift away from fossil fuels now required to avert catastrophe." In order to keep global temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius increase, the use of sand tar oil and coal should be immediately ended, the statement says. "In the absence of any political leadership or legal mechanisms for accomplishing this, these individuals feel duty bound to halt the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels by personal direct action."
Tar sand oil is particularly contentious for environmental groups because they say its extraction creates lots of toxic waste, polluting nearby areas. Pipelines carrying the crude oil are also criticized for the risk of leaks and spills, which damage the environment.
Today’s action comes in the midst of a long fight over the DAPL in the Dakotas. There, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been protesting the construction of the $3.7 billion, 1,170-mile pipeline that would run close to its reservation. The tribe says the pipeline would destroy some culturally sacred sites and threaten their water supply.
Construction of the DAPL was halted in late August, after the tribe sued the US Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over the land. On Sunday, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit denied the tribe’s request for an injunction to block the pipeline’s construction, effectively allowing the construction to resume. The judges, however, pointed out that "ours is not the final word," and the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, told ABC News that the tribe will consider all its legal options.
"We are guided by prayer, and we will continue to fight for our people," Archambault said in a statement after the ruling. "We will not rest until our lands, people, waters and sacred places are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline."
Update October 11th 3:15ET PM: The story has been updated to include a comment from Spectra Energy.