La Pointe passes resolution supporting the shut down of Enbridge Line 5

 August 28, 2019 by By Barbara With

In a stunning show of support for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Town of La Pointe Board of Supervisors unanimously voted last night to pass “Resolution 2019-0827 Enbridge,” denouncing Enbridge Line 5 and all pipelines in the Great Lakes, and standing by Bad River in their July 23, 2019 lawsuit against the foreign oil company. La Pointe is on Mooningwaanekaaning Minis—Madeline Island—in the middle of the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin.

The Bad River suit is to force the foreign oil company to comply with its legal obligations to decommission and remove the 66-year-old pipeline from the Bad River watershed. Oil continues to flow across 12 miles of sensitive reservation habitat, even though the right-of-way easements expired in 2013, and Line 5 is in imminent danger of failing. The suit comes only after several years of mediation that failed to get Enbridge to shut the line down.

According to the lawsuit:

A meander bend in the Bad River adjacent to where the pipeline is currently buried under the River—and directly upstream from the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs—has been migrating, causing the river to move ever closer to a portion of the pipeline that is buried much shallower than the adjacent river bottom. That bend is highlighted in blue below. When the migrating channel of the Bad River reaches the buried pipeline, the river will erode and remove the surrounding soils (a process known as scouring) until the pipeline is exposed. When this occurs, portions of the pipeline will no longer be supported by underlying or surrounding soils for the length of the exposure, and the unsupported span will lengthen as the river continues to carry away the soils.

The foregoing circumstances represent an existential threat to the Band, its Reservation resources, and its way of life. They pose a dire threat to the treaty-protected rights of the Band and its members in the lands and waters of the Reservation. Accordingly, in addition to constituting a trespass and unlawful possession of the Band’s lands, Enbridge’s refusal to halt the flow of oil across the Reservation constitutes a grave public nuisance.

Read the entire lawsuit here.

The Tribe continues to monitor and document the dangerous conditions of the pipeline and the imminent danger to the entire Chequamegon Bay because of Enbridge’s refusal to stop the oil. Bad River is hoping to avert a potentially devastating situation before it happens and bring the company’s unauthorized presence to an end.

Photo of 25-40 feet of Enbridge Line 5 pipe unsupported and exposed to the elements at the Denomie Creek tributaries on the Bad River Reservation

Resolution 2019-0837 Enbridge addresses the 1,244 spills, leaks and releases over a 17-year period, the failure of Enbridge to have a plan to clean up a spill under ice, and the urgency to decommission Line 5, considering the extremity of the problem and the great risk La Pointe and Madeline Island are currently in because of Enbridge’s refusal to stop the oil.

Residents of La Pointe who attended the meeting were in agreement with the resolution.

Town of La Pointe
Resolution 2019-0837

WHEREAS, Line 5 is a set of twin, 64-year-old pipelines owned by Enbridge that carry light crude oil and natural gas across Wisconsin; and

WHEREAS, the Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s fresh, available surface water and are a drinking source for over 35 million people; and

WHEREAS, agriculture, fisheries, shipping and industry depend on the health of the Great Lakes; and

WHEREAS, Enbridge has a track record that includes 1,244 reportable spills, leaks and releases from 1996 to 2013; and

WHEREAS, corrosion is the number one reason that pipelines fail; and

WHEREAS, Line 5 was built before the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Acts was adopted so it doesn’t have to obtain a permit and ensure that the pipeline wouldn’t pose a threat to the waters or the public’s use of the waters; and

WHEREAS, there is no plan for how to recover oil if there was a leak during the winter when the lakes are covered with ice; and

WHEREAS, as Wisconsinites, we have a responsibility to be wise stewards of the waters of our state for generations to come; and

WHEREAS, protection of Wisconsin’s water supplies and resources is better accomplished by prevention of contamination and environmental degradation, rather than by attempting to clean up contamination and restore degraded environments after the fact;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that on the 27th day of August 2019, the Town of La Pointe Board of Supervisors supports stopping the transportation of oil under the Great Lakes; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Town of La Pointe Board of Supervisors supports the lawsuit brought forth by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians against Enbridge;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town of La Pointe supports shutting down Line 5 and the flow of oil under the Great Lakes;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town of La Pointe Board of Supervisors will send a letter to the Governor of Wisconsin, Attorney General, our State Representatives, State Senators and U.S. Senators calling on them to take swift action to shut down Line 5.

PASSED on this 27th Day of August 2019

James Patterson, Chairman
Mike Anderson, Supervisor
Sue Brenna, Supervisor
Glenn Carlson, Supervisor
John Carlson, Supervisor


Photo: Joe Brusky and the Overpass Light Brigade

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