EPA says Enbridge’s plans for Line 5 may permanently damage water quality, aquatic life, and native habitat

March 22, 2022

Adapted from article EPA raises red flags on Enbridge Line 5’s environmental and tribal impacts in Minnesota Healing Voices.

The public is encouraged to submit written comments on the Enbridge Draft Environmental Impact Statement by email or regular mail. Submit electronic and hardcopy written comments at any time through Friday, April 15, 2022, to:  

Department of Natural Resources Line 5 EIS Comments (EA/7) 101 South Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707 Email: DNROEEACOMMENTS@WI.GOV

In a letter dated March 16, 2022 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weighed in on the dangers of the proposed plan by Enbridge to replace Line 5 in northern Wisconsin:

Application and related information that EPA reviewed, we believe that the proposed project “may result in substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts” to the Bad River and the Kakagon- Bad River Sloughs wetland complex.

The environmentally sensitive Kakagon-Bad River Slough Complex abuts Lake Superior and covers 10,760 acres of mostly undeveloped sloughs, bogs, and coastal lagoons, critical to the lake’s health.

Map: Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

EPA’s letter says the sloughs “are resources of national importance because they are economically significant; their unique characteristics have been identified and designated for protection under international, national, state, and tribal law; and these waterbodies are integral to maintaining and enhancing the quality of the Nation’s waters.”

“In addition to the economic and cultural value of wild rice to the Bad River Band, the sloughs provide important habitat supporting many fish species integral to Lake Superior recreational and commercial fishing,” the letter continued. “Bad River Band noted in 2019: ‘Comprising a significant portion of the remaining Lake Superior coastal wetlands, the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs is critical to supporting the biodiversity of Lake Superior fisheries.’”

“According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kakagon Slough is also a Nature Conservancy Priority Conservation area, a Wisconsin Legacy Place, a Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative Important Bird Area, a Wisconsin Wetlands Association Wetland GEM, and a Wisconsin Coastal Wetland Primary Inventory Site,” the EPA wrote.

Map: Carl Sack

Line 5 construction would cross 72 waterbodies where the federal government has jurisdiction. The trenching and HDD could introduce excess sediment, fuels, lubricants, and drilling fluids which could get into the wetland complex through connected tributary streams, “and may permanently and negatively impact water quality, aquatic life, and native habitat,” the EPA wrote.

EPA believes that the Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs “are especially vulnerable” from Line 5 because several waters connected to the watershed “are already impaired and/or are susceptible to receiving high loads of sediment,” its letter said.


Kakagon Sloughs. Photo © Larry Kinnett

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