So Enbridge Sued Us

  • Image of James Botsford and his wife


By James Botsford

(Editor’s Note: James and Krista Botsford of Wausau, Wisconsin are being sued by Enbridge, a multi-national oil pipeline corporation based in Canada, over land in North Dakota that the Botsfords own.)

One day around dinner time the phone rang and it was someone from a multi-national oil pipeline corporation telling me they wanted to run a 24-inch pipeline across our farmland capable of transporting 300,000 barrels of oil a day in order to get it to a seaport so it could be sold on the world market.

I told them my wife and I weren’t interested, that we didn’t want to participate in their private corporate project that would increase the globalDonate warming crisis through the further exploitation of fossil fuels.

They kept calling and mailing “sign here” documents by FedEx with prepaid FedEx return envelopes. We kept saying no. They offered more money. Finally we suggested they should just go around our property. They said they were Enbridge and they don’t go around anything—they go through it.

And they offered more money. We said we didn’t want their money. So they sued us.

Both sets of my grandparents were North Dakota farmers, one of them in Grand Forks County where the land we now own and Enbridge wants to condemn is located. My father purchased this particular parcel (160) acres) in 1980 and it has been in our family ever since. When my parents died my brother and I divided the farm land they owned between our two families so it would be easy for us to pass it on to our respective heirs. That’s how my wife and I came to own this ¼ section parcel and the one adjacent to it.

Upon inheriting this land we told our children we considered it to be part of our family legacy. We told them we would continue to rent out the tillable acres to local family farmers and keep the rest in the Conservation Reserve Program just as my parents did.

When Enbridge contacted us we told them this story. And we told them quite a bit more. We told them about our personal values concerning the environment, the future, our investments and our sense of responsibility.

Field of Wheat in North DakotaWe told them that from the time we were able to invest money in the market we focused on what’s called, “Socially Responsible Investments” and have specifically excluded investing in (among other things) fossil fuels and have instead tried to invest in the new technology of sustainable energy.

We told Enbridge and their attorneys that we drive cars and that we’ve enjoyed the boons that oil has provided…but that it’s time for change. As a society we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel with the desperation of “extreme extraction” just to prolong the status quo and the rusty technological infrastructure the companies own and are familiar with.

We’re doing this in spite of the toxins and earthquakes of fracking, the flaring off of natural gas, and in spite of the incontrovertible science-based evidence of the effect it’s all having on the climate and the natural world upon which all living things rely and are a part.

We told Enbridge that when life presents you with an opportunity to take a stand for what you believe in—in this case the future health, balance and well-being of the world and all things in it—you are compelled by dignity to rise up to that opportunity.

We told Enbridge we brought our children up this way and that our children support what we are doing. We told Enbridge that if we failed to take this stand we would be hypocrites, and who wants to hypocrites in the eyes of their children? Enbridge responded by offering us more money.

(This is the first in a series of articles by James Botsford. If you would like to support their legal battles, please go to