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Line 5 Environmental Review Draws Widespread Criticism at Public Hearing

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MADISON, WI—Today, hundreds of people participated in a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hearing on Enbridge Energy’s controversial plan to build a new segment of its Line 5 pipeline in northern Wisconsin. Hearing participants provided detailed testimony about how the project would harm natural resources, threaten public health and destabilize the climate. An overwhelming majority said the DNR has failed to adequately analyze and inform the public of the potential harm the project could cause.

Line 5 is a hazardous liquid pipeline that conveys light and synthetic crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario through northern Wisconsin and both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. The construction project—which would stretch for more than 40 miles and cross nearly 200 waterbodies—would allow Enbridge to continue operating the 70-year-old pipeline in the Lake Superior and Lake Michigan watersheds.

The DNR released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project in December. According to state law, the draft EIS must contain information about how the project would negatively impact people, natural resources, and the economy. It must also include an analysis of alternatives to the proposed project. Wisconsin law requires the DNR to consider testimony provided at the hearing, as well as written comments sent by March 4, before issuing a final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal.

During today’s hearing, DNR staff listened to hours of testimony describing the shortcomings of the draft EIS. Hearing participants expressed concerns that the draft EIS fails to properly recognize how harmful Enbridge’s proposal would be for Wisconsin’s water, wetlands and climate

“The draft environmental review falls short of what the law requires and what the people of Wisconsin deserve. Given the significant risks associated with pipeline construction, the DNR must do more by holding Enbridge’s proposal to the highest possible environmental scrutiny,” said Tony Wilkin Gibart, executive director of Midwest Environmental Advocates.

“Enbridge’s plan represents a clear threat to the health and safety of Wisconsin communities and the natural resources on which they rely,” said Midwest Environmental Advocates Staff Attorney Rob Lee. “We support those who have asked the DNR for more than just a cursory environmental analysis of the proposal. They want a meaningful and thorough look at how their communities and the surrounding landscape would be harmed by this project.”

The DNR will accept written comments on its draft EIS through Friday, March 18, 2022. Comments should be sent by email to dnroeeacomments@wi.gov or by U.S. mail to “Line 5 EIS Comments, DNR (EA/7),” 101 South Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707.

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