Enbridge has 3 years to shut down part of Line 5

Enbridge has 3 years to shut down part of Line 5

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — On Friday, U.S. District Judge William Conley ordered Enbridge to shut down part of the Line 5 pipeline that crosses reservation land within three years. The energy company was further ordered to pay a Native American tribe more than $5 million for trespassing.

Friday’s order from U.S. District Judge William Conley was issued after members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa advised during a hearing in Madison that the Enbrige Line 5 pipeline is at immediate risk of being exposed by erosion and rupturing on their land.

The tribe argued that an emergency exists because significant portions of nearby riverbank have washed away this year, leaving less than 15 feet (4.6 meters) of land between Line 5 and the Bad River as it meanders on the reservation.

This warning has been echoed by experts and environmental advocates, that exposed pipelines would be weakened and could rupture at any time, causing massive oil spills.

The judge’s order agreed that a rupture on tribal land “would unquestionably be a public nuisance” but disagreed that the threat is imminent, and stated that a shutdown would likely “spark at least temporary shortages and increased prices for refined gas, propane and butane in the Upper Midwest and Eastern Canada, creating hardships, specially for the poor and other economically challenged households.”

“Nevertheless, given the environmental risks, the court will order Enbridge to adopt a more conservative shutdown and purge plan,” Conley wrote.

Specifically the judge’s order gives Enbridge three years to “cease operation of Line 5 on any parcel within the Band’s tribal territory on which defendants lack a valid right of way and to arrange reasonable remediation at those sites.”

Conley also ordered Enbridge to pay more than $5.15 million for trespassing, and to keep paying the tribe a portion of its profits for as long as the pipeline continues operating on tribal land.

Enbridge said on Saturday that it plans to appeal and “remains open to an amicable resolution with the Bad River Band.” The statement opposes the accusation that Enbridge is trespassing and the judge’s order that Line 5 must stop operating on reservation land within three years.

Enbridge has proposed a long-term solution to the dispute which would be a 41-mile (66-kilometer) reroute of the pipeline, however stated that “the project hinges on timely government permit approvals to allow construction to be completed within the next three years.”

Line 5 transports up to 23 million gallons (about 87 million liters) of oil and liquid natural gas each day, stretching 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) from the city of Superior, Wisconsin through northern Wisconsin and Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.

Not a new conflict, this matter has been argued previously. In 2019, The Bad River tribe sued Enbridge in efforts to force the company to remove the roughly 12-mile (19-kilometer) section crossing its reservation, saying the 70-year-old pipeline is dangerous and that land agreements allowing Enbridge to operate on the reservation expired in 2013.

Conley agreed with the tribe in September, concluding that Enbridge was trespassing and must compensate the tribe for illegally using its land.

In November, Conley told Enbridge and tribal leaders to create an emergency shutoff plan given the significant risk of “catastrophic” damage to the reservation and its water supply.

–with files from upnorthlive.com


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