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In Kicking Enbridge Off Reservation, Bad River Band Tribe Prioritizes Protecting People

Line 5 Pipeline Ouster Carries Strong Message For Gov. Snyder.

Bad_River_Band.jpgA Wisconsin tribal government’s rejection this week of a request to allow Enbridge’s Line 5 to continue operating on tribal lands sends a powerful message to Michigan officials, who are weighing the fate of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan’s Oil & Water Don't Mix campaign said today.  

Citing the impact of a potentially damaging oil spill on tribal land, the Bad River Band Tribal Council directed that Line 5 pipeline removal begin on tribal lands, located just west of where the controversial pipeline enters Michigan and crosses the Straits of Mackinac.  Like the rest of the 645-mile pipeline, the Bad River portion of Line 5 was constructed in 1953.  In their decision to reject a renewal of several easement agreements with Enbridge, tribal officials cited the pipeline’s age and threat to the health and way of life of tribal members. 

In a news release, Bad River Tribal Chairman Robert Blanchard said, “As many other communities have experienced, even a minor spill could prove to be disastrous for our people.”

The Bad River Tribe’s decision was strong endorsed by the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign, including campaign steering committee member, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA).

“CORA commends Bad River on their courageous decision to deny the easement for Line 5, “ said Jane A. TenEyck, Executive Director of CORA. 

“The five CORA tribes have also called for removal of this pipeline that threatens the most productive fishing areas in the heart of our treaty waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan.” -Jane A. TenEyck, Executive Director of CORA. 

CORA represents the Bay Mills Indian Community, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Enbridge’s Line 5 has come under increased scrutiny in recent years after an Enbridge pipeline near Marshall, MI ruptured in 2010, spilling more than a million gallons of oil along the Kalamazoo River in the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.   The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin is currently weighing whether to renew a permit for a 11.5-mile section of Line 5.  In Michigan state officials are expected to consider Line 5 alternative proposals this spring, including those requiring Enbridge to decommission Line 5 in the Straits.

“Michigan’s Great Lakes way of life is threatened every day by these deteriorating Line 5 pipelines,” said David Holtz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee Chair.  “Gov. Snyder should show the same leadership as the Bad River Band Tribal Council, listen to other tribal voices here in Michigan, and stop the flow of oil through the Straits of Mackinac.”

With over 7,000 members, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located on an over 124,000-acre reservation within Ashland and Iron Counties on the south shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin.

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