Enbridge Energy’s 67-year-old Line 5 oil pipeline crosses Northern Wisconsin through the Bad River Watershed, tributary to Lake Superior. Any oil spill threatens:
- trout streams;
- wildlife habitat;
- the extensive wetlands of the Kakagon Slough-awarded recognition as a Wetland of International Importance;
- the largest natural wild rice beds on the Great Lakes, which have been culturally significant to the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for centuries; and
the spectacular waterfalls and deep gorges of Copper Falls State Park.
Enbridge now proposes a new 41 mile expansion of Line 5. The construction moves closer to and will border three sides of Copper Falls State Park. The route of the new oil pipeline vastly expands the territory within the Bad River Watershed impacted by construction activities and operation of the new pipeline.
These are Our Waters. You can help protect the resources of the Bad River Watershed by testifying or submitting written comments on the oil pipeline expansion. DNR has announced a virtual public hearing on Wednesday July 1, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. Since the DNR public hearing will be a zoom meeting, attendance will be possible from anywhere in the state.
The League of Women Voters is supporting the efforts of LWV of Ashland Bayfield Counties to prevent the expansion of Line 5 and protect the natural resources of the Bad River Watershed and Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world.
We urge League members to testify and/or submit written comments as individuals expressing your concerns about the proposed expansion of Line 5. Following the “Background” section below are links to talking points and other resources for your use.
Since the 1950’s, Enbridge Energy has owned and operated a liquid petroleum pipeline in Northern Wisconsin and beyond. Known as Line 5, the oil pipeline brings crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands region in Canada, across the US to a refinery in Sarnia, Ontario Canada.
Line 5 poses an imminent danger to Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes from ruptures and spills. Enbridge Line 5 has spilled over one million gallons of oil and gas over its history. Line 5 pipeline damage and safety breaches discovered in June 2020 in the Michigan Straits of Mackinac has renewed concerns of oil spills due to inadequate monitoring and maintenance.
DNR states that “Construction of the proposed project would affect 109 acres of wetland, result in the conversion of 29.5 acres of wooded wetland to non-wooded wetland, and permanent fill of 0.06 acres of wetland. Of the 186 waterways that exist within the proposed project area, 185 would be temporarily bridged for vehicle access and 87 would have the pipeline installed via open-cut trenching or dredging.”
Constructing a new 41 mile expansion of Line 5 around the edge of the Reservation in Ashland and Iron Counties will do irreparable damage to other natural resources in the region. As 350 Madison has warned, “the health and prosperity of tribal members, the region’s wildlife and wetlands, and Lake Superior’s coastline are all at risk as long as Line 5 is allowed to continue its operation in the area.”
We urge League members to testify and/or submit written comments as individuals expressing your concerns about the proposed Line 5 Extension. Here are resources for your use.
https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/eia/enbridge.html is the DNR comprehensive website on all Enbridge Pipeline Projects in Wisconsin. Here you will find details on registering to attend the July 1, 2020 Virtual Public Hearing on Line 5 Extension Waterway and Wetland Permits and the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The deadline for written comments is July 11, 2020. Submit your comments by email to DNROEEACOMMENTS [at] WI.GOV ()or by US mail to: Line 5 Comments, DNR (EA/7), 101 South Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707
LWV-ABC talking points for your use are HERE Be sure to express why you are personally concerned about the impacts on Lake Superior, the cleanest of the Great Lakes and the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.
Several additional materials from our allies detail the natural resources of the area impacted:
- https://midwestadvocates.org Look for the April and May newsletters of Midwest Environmental Advocates and the four Guides on Oil Pipelines co-developed by MEA and Greenfire.
- http://www.badriver-nsn.gov/ The website of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
- https://www.wisconsinwetlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Kakagon-Bad-River-Sloughs.pdf Read the Wisconsin Wetlands Association successful nomination of the Kakagon Slough for the Ramsar Award - Wetland of International Importance.