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

Line 5 USACE Hearing Robert Houle
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Ashland, WI— Today, 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 Enbridge’s plan to build 40 miles of new pipeline around and upstream of the Bad River Reservation.

“We are here today because Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 proposal represents a clear threat to the health and safety of Wisconsin communities and the natural resources on which we all depend,” said Elizabeth Ward of Sierra Club—Wisconsin.

Line 5 opponents are urging the Army Corps—the agency tasked with reviewing Enbridge’s Clean Water Act permit application—to reject the application.

“We believe the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not adequately evaluated the threat that Enbridge’s plan poses to the waterways and treaty-protected natural resources of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa,” said Anya Janssen, an attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates.

Line 5 carries nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil and liquid natural gas every day from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario through northern Wisconsin and both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. The current route cuts across the heart of the Bad River Reservation, where Line 5 continues to operate despite ongoing litigation.

“What Bad River has been facing since 2013 is an illegal trespass on our reservation. We struggle to see why it is so hard to protect our waters and our lands,” said Dan Wiggins, Jr., deputy director of the Band River Band’s Mashkiiziibii Natural Resources Department and a member of the Tribal Council.

For more than a decade, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has fought to remove the Line 5 oil pipeline from their homeland. In September 2022, a federal judge ruled that Enbridge is illegally trespassing on the Bad River Reservation. In June 2023, U.S. District Judge William Conley ordered Enbridge to cease operating Line 5 on the Reservation by June 2026.

Judge Conley’s shutdown order is currently on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. In the meantime, Enbridge is pressing ahead with its plan to reroute the pipeline around the reservation.

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 Wisconsin that also include the Lake Superior and Lake Michigan watersheds.

“With [Enbridge’s] deep pockets, they’ll do everything they can to get their way. They promise the sun, the moon and the stars. They promise new jobs and money—but we need clean air and clean water,” said Robert Houle, a member of the Bad River Band’s Tribal Council.

Enbridge’s pipeline disaster record includes the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010, the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. While constructing the Line 3 Replacement Project in 2021, Enbridge punctured three aquifers across Minnesota, causing nearly 300 million gallons of groundwater to flow to the surface and incurring fines and a criminal charge.

Jan Penn, a retired nurse practitioner and longtime local resident, spoke about how the reroute would endanger public health. In 2010, after a massive 800,000-gallon oil spill from an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services documented many cases of respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological symptoms resulting from acute exposure to crude oil. “A spill like that would be devastating for the health of our community,” said Penn.

Glenn Carlson, chair of the Town of La Pointe on Madeline Island, described the risks to the regional economy. “While the Line 5 reroute would create temporary jobs during pipeline construction, any economic boost for the local economy would be short-lived,” said Carlson. “In contrast, the pipeline represents a long-term threat to tourism, agriculture and other sectors of our economy that rely on clean water.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will accept written comments through July 5, 2024. Comments should be sent by email to CEMVP-WiL5R-CDD-Comments@usace.army.mil or by mail to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District Regulatory Division, Attn: Enbridge Line 5, 332 Minnesota St., St. Paul, MN 55101. Mailed comments must be postmarked no later than July 5, 2024.

 

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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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