Citizens expose gross inadequacies in Enbridge Line 5 draft EIS, tell DNR to do their job

February 6, 2022

Barbara With & Rebecca Kemble

On February 2, 2022, over 250 people attended the Wisconsin DNR public hearing to respond to the Enbridge Line 5 draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The replacement pipeline is being proposed to be built through the Bad River watershed on the shores of Lake Superior.

The 10-hour hearing revealed an overwhelming opposition to the project, with 147 people (88%) testifying against, and 20 (12%) in favor.

Headwaters of the Kakagon Sloughs, Bad River. Photo: David Joe Bates

Citizens who oppose the building of the pipeline through the Bad River watershed commented on the 400+ page statement, bringing to light the fatals flaws of Enbridge’s plan. There were repeated demands that the DNR do their job to address the myriad of deeper problems in the EIS.

These are some of the complaints about what is lacking in the draft EIS and what the DNR failed to do:

  • No meaningful consultation with all the Tribes
  • No consideration of treaty rights
  • Did not wait for cultural surveys to be completed
  • Does not address water withdrawals required for construction and pipeline testing
  • Failed to take into consideration the ramifications of the 20-year life span of the pipeline
  • Fails to adequately address impacts on endangered species
  • Failed to address the impact of blasting through bedrock
  • Failed to address water quality standards
  • Failed to verify the claims made by Enbridge
  • Failed to address the climate change impact of Line 5
  • Failed to address Enbridge’s history of spills
  • Failed to address Enbridge’s track record of environmental damage in Minnesota from Line 3 construction
  • Failed to address Enbridge’s refusal to abide by Michigan law

Enbridge seemed to have prepared a handful of construction trade unions, industry associations and pipeline contractors who read the corporation’s statement, repeating the same talking points. Although the purpose of the hearing was to receive comments on the draft EIS, none of those testifying in support addressed the EIS itself. Instead they spoke another on the potential economic impact of Line 5, focusing only on “700 ‘good-paying’ jobs,” “$6 million in taxes paid” and “$36 million in potential tax revenue.”

Enbridge Line 3 damage at the Mississippi in Clearwater, MN. Photo: Ron Turney

They also insisted that Enbridge is “honoring” the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa by moving the pipeline outside of “Tribal boundaries.” However, according to Bad River Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr., the Line 5 re-route is potentially even more harmful to the Bad River people. He said, “The crux of the issue is that they are in our hydrologically connected waterways and water aquifers.”

In 2019 Bad River filed a federal lawsuit against Enbridge demanding it shuts down its more than six decade-old pipeline running through the tribe’s reservation. That case is ongoing. In response to US Congressman Tom Tiffany, Wiggins said, “With all due respect to the congressman, he says this reroute proposal honors our request. The only thing we have ever asked of the oil company is to get out of our water. That has been rejected, that has been disrespected, and essentially ignored. It’s a simple request. We told them to take their $24 million they offered us to exist in our drinking water and put it into the reroute project out of our water shed, out of our hydrological connectivities. That underscores the essence of our defense and our resistance.”

The DNR is accepting written comments regarding the draft EIS through March 18, 2022. Concerned citizen can read the document here or visit the Enbridge EIS Tool Kit to learn more.

Comments can be emailed or mailed:

Email: dnroeeacomments@wi.gov

U.S. mail:
Line 5 EIS Comments
DNR (EA/7)
101 South Webster StreetMadison, WI 53707

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