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Line 5: Tribal Nations and Advocacy Groups Respond as Enbridge Appeals Shutdown Order

On Friday, Enbridge filed an appeal seeking to overturn a federal court’s recent decision in favor of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa that requires a segment of the Line 5 pipeline to be shut down within three years.

The court ruled on June 16 that the Canadian oil giant’s Line 5 pipeline is in trespass on the Band’s reservation and that it constitutes a public nuisance by posing an imminent threat of rupture that could devastate the Band’s drinking water, plants and wildlife, and the region’s economy. Enbridge’s proposal to re-route the pipeline does not protect the Band, their treaty-reserved territory, or the Great Lakes from the threat of Line 5.

Path of Line 5 crude oil pipeline on the Bad River Band territory in Wisconsin

The following are statements from Tribal Nations and advocacy groups impacted by Line 5:

Whitney Gravelle, President of the Bay Mills Indian Community: "Enbridge’s appeal should come as no surprise. For decades they have incorrectly asserted they are above law and regulation. Their disregard of the rights of Tribal Nations is part of a long history by Enbridge of putting profit above anything else – a history that must finally come to an end. We hope the court sees through this thinly veiled effort and stops Enbridge’s stall tactics. Line 5 is on life support, and they want the court to revive them."

Bob Sutherland, CEO of Cherry Republic and co-chair of the Great Lakes Business Network: “For the businesses of the Great Lakes region, Enbridge’s continued operation of Line 5 is nothing more than a disaster waiting to happen. When oil slimes the Great Lakes beaches because we didn’t do enough now, the tens of thousands of tourists we see every year will be scared away, and they won’t come back.”

Elizabeth Ward, Sierra Club Wisconsin Chapter Director: “Instead of complying with the shutdown order, Enbridge is trying to create delays and to pressure agencies to fast-track permits and re-route the pipeline. All while raking in profits for shareholders and putting one-fifth of the world's fresh water at risk from a catastrophic oil spill. Enbridge’s proposed re-route doesn’t change the fact that Line 5 puts the region’s wildlife, wetlands, and people at risk. President Biden must stand by his climate promises, protect the Great Lakes and take action to shut down Line 5.”

Peg Sheaffer, Midwest Environmental Advocates: "Given the deteriorating state of the 70-year-old pipeline, the possibility of a catastrophic oil spill increases with every passing day. Rerouting Line 5 would only exacerbate that risk by facilitating the continued operation of the entire pipeline, which is well past its original life expectancy and has already spilled at least a million gallons of oil.”

Beth Wallace, Freshwater Campaigns Manager for the National Wildlife Federation: "Whether in the Straits or across sovereign Indigenous territory, Enbridge can no longer gamble with our lives for their profits. The clock is finally ticking on a shutdown. We just hope it comes before it's too late.”

Stefanie Tsosie, Earthjustice attorney representing the Band on the re-route proposal: "Enbridge's appeal—like their proposal to re-route the pipeline—is just a misguided attempt to keep the oil and their profits flowing at the expense of the Band and everyone else who relies on the Great Lakes. Hundreds of wetlands and waterways in this unique ecosystem would be impacted by the re-route project, which only moves the threat of an oil spill further upstream from its current path. The only serious solution is to shut down and decommission Line 5."

Marco Simons, EarthRights General Counsel: "Indigenous communities living in the shadow of Enbridge's Line 5 have made it clear: the pipeline threatens their natural resources, culture, and very existence. Simply re-routing Line 5 will not protect communities from harm, especially if the pipeline continues to operate in the interim. We urge policymakers, including President Biden, to respect the human rights of frontline Indigenous communities by decommissioning Line 5 immediately."

Rene Ann Goodrich, Bad River Tribal Elder and Native Lives Matter Coalition: “Line 5 crosses over tribal treaty territory and one of those ceded territories is my own reservation of Bad River. The danger that Line 5 brings to the environment is our biggest concern here. We have that need, we have that responsibility, we have that duty to protect our life givers. Our life givers are the earth, the aquifers underneath the earth, the women that are sacred water carriers, and water itself that brings life. As sacred water carriers we stand with the water, and urge the Biden Administration to take action and shut down Line 5 immediately.”

Paul DeMain, Oneida/Ojibwe, Communities United by Water: "Shutting down Line 5 is the best option for protecting resources and treaty obligations with the Ojibwe and protection of our trust with Lake Superior."

Krystal Two Bulls, Oglala Lakota/Northern Cheyenne, Executive Director for Honor the Earth: “Running Line 5 through the Great Lakes was a mistake back in 1953 and it continues to be a mistake today! It is past time for President Biden to revoke the permit and shut it down. Line 5 is 20 years past its engineered lifespan, running on stolen time. Rather than accepting a graceful retirement, Line 5 is choosing to continue to violate Indigenous Rights, Treaty Rights and will inevitably irrevocably contaminate fresh water. We will continue to stand with and support the Bad River Band and all tribes fighting to protect Mother Earth."

Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN): "Right now Line 5 threatens Indigenous Peoples’ existence and rights, the climate, and the Great Lakes, which hold one-fifth of the world’s surface freshwater. At any moment that threat could turn into an irreparable reality—three years to shutdown the pipeline is just too dangerous of a risk. We stand with the Bad River Band who are calling for Line 5 to be decommissioned immediately. Listen to Indigenous leaders and shut down Line 5 now."

Ashley Rudzinski, Climate & Environment Program Director for Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities: "This is all about the money. Enbridge's appeal is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to delay, delay, delay to keep profits flowing. They know the writing is clearly on the wall for Line 5, yet Enbridge continues to do everything they can in both Wisconsin and Michigan to slow its inevitable and necessary shutdown. Biden needs to act urgently to end this affront to tribal sovereignty and protect the shared waters of the Great Lakes."

Sean McBrearty, Oil and Water Don’t Mix Campaign Coordinator and Michigan Legislative and Policy Director for Clean Water Action: “Enbridge’s appeal shows that they’ll do anything to make more money, and that they have no respect for tribal sovereignty. The facts are plain: Judge Conley upheld that Enbridge is unlawfully trespassing on the Bad River reservation. Enbridge is also operating Line 5 without a valid easement in the state of Michigan. Line 5 poses a catastrophic threat to the Great Lakes wherever it operates each day it remains open. We need President Biden to shut down Line 5 before it’s too late.”

Michelle Woodhouse, Environmental Defence: “We can thrive without Line 5, but cannot live without a healthy Great Lakes. All regions served by Line 5 will be able to meet their energy needs in the event of a shut down. Several analyses commissioned to several industry experts over the last two years have illuminated this. Now is the time for both Canada and the United States to get serious about implementing a permanent and complete Line 5 shut down. As national stewards of the Great Lakes in the midst of a global climate crisis, our top priority must be to protect the Great Lakes – not to pursue dangerous and false “solutions” like Enbridge’s reroute plan.”

Collectively, these Tribal Nations and allied advocacy groups have gathered signatures from more than 65,000 individuals and 150 organizations calling on President Biden to revoke the presidential permit for the pipeline and immediately shut down Line 5.

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  • Bill Latka
    published this page in News 2023-07-06 18:04:20 -0400

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