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an aging oil pipeline

Enbridge Line 5

Enbridge Energy wants to build a new section of its Line 5 oil pipeline in northern Wisconsin. Pipeline construction poses significant risks to the region, while continued reliance on fossil fuels threatens public health, the environment, and the economy.

Threats to water resources and climate

The current route cuts across the heart of the Bad River Reservation, where Line 5 continues to operate despite expired easements. The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has filed a lawsuit in federal court to force the removal of the aging pipeline. Rather than shut down Line 5, Enbridge plans to build a new section of pipeline around the perimeter of the Reservation but still within the Bad River watershed. 

The construction project—which would stretch for more than 40 miles and cross nearly 200 waterbodies—would allow Enbridge to continue operating the pipeline in environmentally sensitive areas of northern Wisconsin.

Any potential economic benefits of this project would be far outweighed by the environmental harmed caused by construction, the significant risks associated with a potential spill, and the catastrophic climate impacts that will result from continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Impacts on Tribal treaty rights

In Wisconsin, the Band River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other Ojibwe Tribes have rights to hunt, fish, and gather on lands and waters ceded to the United States through treaty. The reroute poses a threat to the Bad River Band’s treaty-protected natural resources, including fisheries and wild rice. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed, saying that the proposed reroute “will have substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts” on the Bad River and the Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs. 

The Bad River Band has filed a federal lawsuit to protect its water resources and its treaty rights. Last summer, Judge William Conley gave Enbridge three years to decommission the segment of Line 5 that crosses the Bad River Reservation. The judge also ordered Enbridge to pay the Band a portion of the profits it has earned since 2013, when easements allowing the pipeline to operate on Tribal lands expired. Enbridge responded by appealing the decision. 

For its part, the Bad River Band has made clear that it has no intention of backing down. In early March, Enbridge offered the Band $80 million in exchange for allowing Line 5 to continue trespassing on Tribal land. The Band replied by issuing an open letter in which they declared, “our homeland, our treaty rights and our way of life are not for sale.” 

our Line 5 work

LEGAL ACTION

Holding Enbridge 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.

POLICY & ADVOCACY

Calling for the Shutdown of Enbridge Line 5

MEA is working at the state and national levels to help policymakers and elected officials understand the urgent need to decommission aging fossil fuel infrastructure projects like Enbridge Line 5.

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latest news

Line 5 Updates

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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Line 5 resources

MEA GUIDE

Pipeline Regulation Guides

MEA WEBINAR (April 2020)

Pipeline Regulation Webinar

DNR DOCUMENT

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Line 5