Wisconsin judge won't order Enbridge Line 5 closed

Wisconsin judge won't order Enbridge Line 5 closed

U.S. judge says closing oil and gas pipeline would have serious implications for Canadian and U.S. foreign policy.

A Wisconsin judge has ruled in favor of an Indigenous community in Wisconsin in their dispute with Enbridge over Line 5, but has not ordered the closure of the controversial Canadian cross-border pipeline.

District Court Judge William Conley Says Chippewa Community of Bad River on Lake Superior Has Demonstrated Right to Revoke Authorization Granted to Enbridge in 2013 to run the pipeline through its territory.

Judge Conley also ruled that the First Nation, who wants the pipeline removed from the Bad River reservation, is entitled to financial compensation – although he did not go into detail on this. .

The judge, however, denied the Bad River community's motion to have the pipeline shut down altogether, citing serious potential foreign policy and trade consequences for both Canada only for the United States.

It acknowledges Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly's decision late last month to formally invoke a 1977 Canada-US treaty, which specifically covers cross-border pipelines.

In his ruling, released Wednesday evening, Judge Conley also demands that Enbridge reroute the pipeline within five years to bypass Bad River territory – a move the company says of Calgary, has already begun.

The Enbridge Line 5 route that crosses part of Michigan and the Strait of Mackinac.

Environmental concerns are at the heart of this case in Wisconsin, where the pipeline runs directly through the Bad River Reservation, more than 500 square kilometers of pristine wetlands, streams and wilderness.

The Chippewa First Nation has been arguing in court for more than three years that Enbridge is trespassing on its territory by breaching the terms of the easements that allowed the pipeline to cross the reservation beginning in 1953.< /p>

Enbridge, on the other hand, argued that a 1992 agreement with the community of Bad River allowed the pipeline to continue operating until 2043.


Judge Conley, however, found that the community of Bad River was within its rights to decide not to renew the easements granted in 2013, and that the 1992 agreement was not in itself a guarantee that the pipeline could continue to operate until 2043.

The agreed purpose was not, as Enbridge now claims, to allow it to operate [the pipeline] across the entire reserve for 50 years, writes the judge. Further, Enbridge was aware of the risk that its 20-year easements would not be renewed, yet it failed to protect itself from that risk.

The Pipeline 5 has been challenged in court in Wisconsin and neighboring Michigan for most of the past three years. Wednesday's decision will likely be seen as a victory for its opponents, who argue for its outright closure.

Business groups and chambers of commerce on both sides of the border, provincial governments and Ottawa have joined Enbridge in its efforts to present the survival of Line 5 as essential to energy security in Canada and the United States.

Allies have argued, both in court and in public forums, that Line 5 is a vital energy source for several states of the Midwest and a vital link for Canadian refineries, which supply some of the country's busiest airports.

Late last month, Enbridge won a key victory in a lawsuit Michigan: A federal court judge denied Attorney General Dana Nessel's motion to send the case to circuit court, where the state has a better chance of success. Ms. Nessel has since indicated that she plans to appeal the decision.

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