A satirical political group posing as the "Indigenous Pipeline Council" is spreading misinformation about Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline.
The group hosted a meeting Saturday afternoon at the Greysolon Ballroom in which it claimed Enbridge was allowing them to build the last 19 miles of pipeline through Duluth and a terminal waterfront, a move that would displace residents and businesses. The group invited local media and the Duluth City Council.
All bogus. In reality, the final segment of Line 3 is already built in Wisconsin, and connects to the company's terminal in Superior. In Minnesota, the company is looking to replace its aging Line 3 oil pipeline with a new 340-mile-long pipeline, but the project faces numerous legal and regulatory hurdles.
"No part of it is true," Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner told the News Tribune Monday, adding that the company had not even heard of the group.
But one local TV station took the bait. Fox 21 covered the news conference and posted a short story to its website Saturday. The story has since been removed. On Sunday, Fox 21 acknowledged the error and suggested the group was affiliated with "Yes Men," a political satire group who “use trickstery fun to further campaigns," according to the group's website.
Yes Men confirmed it was behind the misinformation in a news release Monday evening and called it "an elaborate hoax." The group said it was meant to show that the fake pipeline would damage Duluth just as many real pipelines have damaged traditional Native American treaty lands.
The group even went so far as to imitate pro-pipeline group Minnesotans for Line 3 and Enbridge in news releases sent to news organizations and the City Council Monday. The faux news releases relied on the group's and company's logos and similar domain names.
Mike Zipko of Minnesotans for Line 3 and Enbridge's Kellner confirmed they did not send those releases Monday morning. Yes Men admitted Monday evening to sending those releases.
The fake news releases denounced the Indigenous Pipeline Council, but then included quotes that made it sound as if the group and company were admitting to the pipeline's negative environmental effects.
It appears no news organizations republished portions of the fake Minnesotans for Line 3 or Enbridge news releases.