Originally built in 1953, Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 645-mile-long oil and natural gas pipeline that runs from Superior, Wisconsin through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and under the Straits of Mackinac, eventually ending at refineries in Sarina, Ontario. Line 5 runs directly through the heart of our service area, carrying around 22 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily.
A 12-mile segment of Line 5 also runs directly through the Bad River Reservation, home to the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In 2013, Enbridge’s easements to run Line 5 through the reservation expired and the tribe chose to not renew them. The Bad River tribe has had multiple concerns with Line 5 within reservation boundaries and fear the effects of a pipeline spill within the watershed and the subsequent effects it would have on the tribe. The Bad River Band requested the pipeline be removed from the reservation and the Bad River watershed.
Negotiations between the Bad River tribe and Enbridge failed to solve the matter, and in 2019 when still no action had been taken by Enbridge, the Bad River tribe filed a federal lawsuit for the removal of Line 5 from reservation land.
The legal pressure has forced Enbridge to devise a reroute for Line 5 outside of the reservation. Enbridge has proposed a new 41-mile reroute for Line 5 that moves the pipeline just outside the reservation boundaries. The proposed reroute still runs through the heart of our service area, right through the Fish Creek, Lower Bad River, White River, Marengo River, Upper Bad River, Tyler Forks, Potato River, and Montreal River watersheds.
For Enbridge to be able to build the rerouted pipeline they must acquire numerous different permits and approvals, and undergo multiple different review processes. In July of 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) held a hearing and public comment period on wetland and water crossing permits for the proposed reroute as well as for Environmental Impact Statement scoping. SRWA submitted a comment during this comment period, urging for deeper analyses of the pipeline’s potential impacts to waterways.
In early 2022, the WDNR released their draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and held a public hearing and comment period for comments on the DEIS and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) held a public comment period for Enbridge’s application pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbor Act of 1899 for work under a navigable water of the United States and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. SRWA commented during the public hearing, submitted a comment to the WDNR, and submitted a comment to USACE. SRWA, aligning with many of our regional colleagues, have asked for WDNR for a rewrite of the DEIS, as we feel it lacks the data and analysis necessary to assess the full risk to our waterways, and for USACE to deny the permits due to the potential health risks to our waterways and the communities that depend on them.
See our comments below: