Northern Wisconsin Tribe Seeks Removal of Pipeline from Land

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa announced that it will not renew some of its easement agreements with Enbridge Energy Partners, a major pipeline company.

Enbridge’s Line 5 runs through norther Wisconsin and transports about 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil and natural gas. Segments of the pipeline cross tribal lands.

In the wake of protests against the development of the Dakota Access pipeline, which galvanized national attention on issues of native land rights and clean water, the decision not to renew the easements represents yet another gesture of local opposition to the fossil fuel industry.

Enbridge was caught by surprise and its spokesperson told Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) that the company hopes to work with the tribe to find a resolution.

According to WPR, however,  Bad River Tribal Spokesman Dylan Jennings explained that “No form of compensation or negotiations will change our decision. We stand pretty firm on this. It’s not about the money. It’s about the environment and what we leave behind for our next generations.”

The tribe seeks to have the pipeline removed from its land, but recognizes that the situation is uncertain and a complex legal battle may lay ahead.

For the complete story, see:

Oil Pipeline Under Lake Michigan

The protest at Standing Rock and the controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline has focused attention on pipelines and the vast network of infrastructure which enables fossil fuel extraction and production. These issues are not new, and an important question is why Standing Rock galvanized so much attention and concern, when similar conflicts related to development, environmental hazards, property rights, and native sovereignty often remain ignored.

Here is a news story related to an existing, 60-year-old pipeline operated by Enbridge Energy that passes under Lake Michigan.

The pipeline enters Wisconsin in Superior and then runs across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and along the shoreline of Lake Michigan before crossing  into the lower part of Michigan. Enbridge operates a recently upgraded pumping station near Mackinaw City, Michigan.

A major oil leak from the pipeline along the shore of Lake Michigan would have significant environmental health consequences. The National Wildlife Federation has spearheaded a lawsuit challenging the 2013 approval of a “spill response plan” by federal regulators. According to the article, “Enbridge has a history of relatively minor spills in Wisconsin and a major one from another line a few years ago near Marshall, Michigan.”

The Enbridge Energy pumping station near Mackinaw City, Michigan. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR