Canada | Environment | National

Bad River Band calls for removal of aging pipeline on reservation

The Bad River runs through the Bad River Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Photo: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe is taking a stand against a pipeline that runs through the reservation in Wisconsin.

The tribe informed Enbridge Energy that it won't renew rights-of-way for the 64-year-old crude oil Line 5. The tribe also said it would start the process to remove the aging infrastructure from its lands.

"We depend upon everything that the Creator put here before us to live mino-bimaadiziwin -- a good and healthy life," Chairman Robert Blanchard said in a press release announcing the tribe's decision. "We will work with our Native and non-native communities to make sure that Line 5 does not threaten the rights of people living in our region, and we will reach out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how to remove Line 5, and we will work with the same communities and officials to continue developing a sustainable economy that doesn't marginalize indigenous people."

Enbridge was "surprised" by the decision, according to a January 6 statement. The firm said it had been talking with the tribe about renewing a series of easements that expired in 2013.

"Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline has been safely operating through the reservation since 1953 and it provides an important supply of light crude oil and natural gas liquids," the statement read.

Line 5 runs for 645 miles through Wisconsin and Michigan before terminating in Ontario, Canada, according to the firm. Tribes in both states have raised concerns about oil spills -- a different pipeline operated by Enbridge was the subject of a settlement when it spilled over 1.2 million gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

Additionally, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe joined a lawsuit that challenges whether Line 5 was properly approved by the federal government.

Read More on the Story:
Enbridge May Face Tough Legal Battle to Keep 60-Year-Old Pipeline Running (Reuters 1/11)
Tribe wants pipeline off its land (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 1/10) Northern Wisconsin Tribe Wants Enbridge To Remove Pipeline From Reservation (Wisconsin Public Radio 1/6)