Federal Court Allows Enbridge To Continue To Cross Wisconsin Reservation Land, Must Come Up With Emergency Plan
A Federal judge has ruled that Enbridge can continue to operate its Line 5 Pipeline across American Indian tribal land in Wisconsin until it can reroute it. However, the energy company and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa must work together to "come up with an emergency plan" in regards to the potential for future pipeline spills.
The decree comes as the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge over operation of the 70-year old pipeline. In 2019 the band petitioned the court to force the removal of the pipeline from the reservation land. As part of the fallout from that lawsuit, Enbridge agreed to "build a $450 million pipeline that would run 41 miles around the reservation".
However, the energy company sought to continue operation until that reroute could happen. On November 28, those terms were finalized in federal court.
According to details shared in an article published on Madison.com, U.S. District Judge William Conley struck a cooperative tone and conclusion; his order reads in part:
"...that risk of a significant rupture exists and the resulting spill could cause "catastrophic" impacts to the Bad River watershed. He allowed the pipeline to continue operating but ordered the tribe and the company to develop a plan to prevent possible spills."
The federal order from the judge came with a deadline: Meet and talk together by December 17 and have a written proposal submitted by December 24.
Reaction to the ruling fell to invested ideals. Elizabeth Ward with the Sierra Club Wisconsin suggested that she was "glad [the judge] recognized the tribe's concerns" but was "disappointed" that the Line 5 Pipeline wasn't completely shut down. Meanwhile Enbridge expressed their desire to meet with the tribe.
No official word on the ruling was released by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.