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Holding Enbridge Energy Accountable to our Environmental Laws

MEA is leading efforts to ensure that state and federal regulators subject Enbridge Energy’s proposed reroute of its Line 5 oil pipeline to the highest possible legal and environmental scrutiny. 

A Timeline of MEA's Line 5 Legal Work

June 2024 – Testimony at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hearing in Ashland
At a June 4 public hearing, MEA Attorney Anya Janssen testified about the need for a more thorough environmental review of the project. The EPA has warned that Line 5 construction will have “substantial and unacceptable” environmental impacts, yet the Army Corps has mischaracterized many of these impacts, calling them minor and short-term—a mischaracterization based on information supplied directly by Enbridge. Attorney Janssen urged the Army Corps to independently evaluate how the construction and continued operation of Line 5 would harm natural resources, threaten public health and destabilize the climate.

May 2024 – Letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Warning Against Fast-Tracking Permit Approvals
MEA and partner organizations called on the Army Corps to postpone the release of its draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and a scheduled  public hearing  until the State of Wisconsin and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have a chance to provide input.  Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, the Army Corps may not issue the permit unless the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Bad River Band certify that the pipeline project will comply with state and Tribal water quality standards, something that has not yet happened.  

April 2023 – Letter to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau
In a petition submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2023, a coalition of fifty-one Tribal and First Nations urged the Government of Canada to reconsider its decision to invoke a 1977 pipeline treaty in an attempt to block the decommissioning of Line 5. MEA co-signed a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and other Canadian officials supporting the Tribal coalition and objecting to Canada’s disregard for the inherent and sovereign rights of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

August 2022 – Environmental Review Request Submitted to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
MEA led an effort to urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to undertake a thorough environmental review of Enbridge Energy’s proposal independent of the environmental review process conducted by the DNR. MEA’s detailed request was jointly submitted with Clean Wisconsin, Honor the Earth, Sierra Club – Wisconsin Chapter, Wisconsin’s Green Fire, 350 Wisconsin and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

We are urging the Army Corps—the agency tasked with reviewing Enbridge’s federal Clean Water Act permit application—to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) that is independent of the environmental review process being conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR’s draft environmental review has drawn heavy criticism for failing to adequately analyze the harmful impacts of the project.

April 2022 – Analysis of DNR’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement
On April 15, MEA and Clean Wisconsin sent DNR a 150-page document explaining how DNR’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) fails to adequately analyze the risks of the project and how construction and continued operation of Line 5 would harm natural resources, threaten public health and destabilize the climate. The document was prepared on behalf of our clients, Honor the Earth, and Sierra Club – Wisconsin Chapter.

March 2022 – Analysis of Enbridge’s Application for Federal Clean Water Act Permit
MEA attorneys scrutinized Enbridge’s Federal Clean Water Act permit request and submitted detailed comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency charged with reviewing Enbridge’s Clean Water Act permit application.

October 2021 – Request Asking DNR to Require Enbridge to Apply for an Individual Storm Water Permit
On October 8th, MEA submitted a detailed request to the Department of Natural Resources, asking the DNR to require Enbridge Energy to provide more information about how its plans will impact the region’s wetlands and waterways. We asked the DNR to require Enbridge to apply for an individual stormwater permit rather than a general stormwater permit. There’s a big difference between a general permit application and an individual permit application. Requiring Enbridge to apply for an individual permit would require the company to submit more information than what is required by a general permit application. The individual permitting process would also give members of the public a chance to weigh in during a public hearing or comment period, opportunities which are not part of the general permitting process.

July 2020 – Comments on the Scope of DNR’s Environmental Impact Statement
At a DNR hearing on July 1st, members of the public had an opportunity to provide input to the Department of Natural Resources on Enbridge’s Line 5 proposal. Concerned Wisconsinites voiced opposition to the project by a 10-to-1 margin. The following week, MEA attorneys submitted 34 pages of comments to DNR detailing concerns related to the proposal, including the fact that Enbridge’s permit application appeared to be incomplete. Enbridge admitted that it failed to conduct required field surveys for at least thirty percent of the waterways and wetlands along the proposed pipeline route.

May 2020 – Request to Intervene in Public Interest Determination
On May 21st, MEA filed a request to intervene in a case involving an application submitted by Enbridge Energy requesting authorization to condemn private property rights in order to construct a new segment of Line 5 around the Bad River Reservation. The request to intervene was filed on behalf of Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Honor the Earth, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Superior Rivers Watershed Association, and 350 Madison. On August 7th, Enbridge notified the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin that it was withdrawing its application. Learn more here.

News Related to Line 5

Press Release

Line 5 Opponents Speak Out at Public Hearing on Controversial Pipeline Project

Hundreds of people turned out at Northwood Technical College in Ashland, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public hearing on Enbridge Energy’s controversial proposal to construct a new segment of its Line 5 oil pipeline. Prior to the hearing, a group of Tribal leaders, environmental advocates and community members held a press conference to highlight increasing public opposition to the plan.

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News

MEA Attorney Helps Youth Leaders Advocate for Climate Justice

Here in Wisconsin, young people are playing an increasingly important role in opposing Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 construction proposal. MEA attorney Jorge Roman-Romero has been working with Dane County Youth Environmental Committee (DCYEC) and Action for the Climate Emergency to help them understand the issues and take action.

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Press Release

MEA Urges Army Corps to Conduct Independent Review of Line 5 Proposal

This week, MEA sent a joint letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging the agency to undertake a thorough environmental review of Enbridge Energy’s plan to construct a new segment of Line 5. We urged the Army Corps to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) that is independent of the environmental review process conducted by the Wisconsin DNR.

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