Residents Voiced Concerns Over Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline Expansion Project

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Residents Voiced Concerns Over Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline Expansion Project

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Enbridge Energy Headquarter (© Shutterstock/ JHVEPhoto)
Enbridge Energy Headquarter (© Shutterstock/ JHVEPhoto)

Hundreds of residents packed the Northwood Technical College on Tuesday, last week for the first session of a multi-day public hearing on the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline project.

The hearing focused on the proposed construction of a new 40-mile pipeline segment, which would be built around and upstream of the Bad River Reservation. Opponents urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject the Canadian company's application, citing environmental risks and potential impact on tribal sovereignty.

"The Line 5 proposal threatens the health and safety of Wisconsin communities and our natural resources," said Elizabeth Ward of the Sierra Club's Wisconsin chapter. According to environmental advocates, the new segment would cross nearly 200 bodies of water.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has long opposed the pipeline's presence on their reservation. In 2022, a federal judge ruled that Enbridge had been trespassing since 2013. The Band is appealing a separate court order requiring Line 5's closure on the reservation by June 2026.

"This is an illegal trespass," said Dan Wiggins Jr., deputy director of the Band's natural resources department. "We struggle to see why protecting our water and land is so difficult."

Enbridge and its supporters say the decades-old pipeline, which transports up to 23 million gallons of oil and gas daily, is safe and essential for American energy independence, lower prices, and Wisconsin jobs. They argue that international treaties and federal law supersede the Band's authority to block the project.

However, opponents counter that Line 5's leak history, including a major 2010 spill from a different Enbridge pipeline, poses a serious environmental threat. They pointed out shoreline erosion near the Bad River, which could expose the pipeline to a flood and lead to a catastrophic spill. Enbridge maintains it has plans to mitigate such risks.

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