Bad River Band files papers in Federal Court about deterioration around Line 5 pipeline during emergency flooding

May 4, 2023

Barbara With

On May 1, 2023, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Enbridge Energy filed papers in federal court, showing evidence that a meander where the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline crosses the Bad River is worsening quickly under the pressure of the record snowfalls, still melting down the north side of the Penokee Hills, and the heavy rains and winds that are repeatedly ravaging the area.

On November 28, 2022, after finding Enbridge guilty of trespassing US District Court Judge William Conley issued an order for Bad River and Enbridge to come to an agreement about shutting down the aging pipeline after years of unsuccessful mediation and litigation. Stopping short of ordering the pipeline decommissioned, Judge Conley based his ruling on idea that “the risk of a catastrophic failure of the pipeline at the meander remains thankfully at least a year away.” The opinion was based on 26 or 27 feet of riverbank between the Bad River shoreline and Line 5 at its nearest point.

Drone shots taken on April 11 and May 1 show erosion due to flooding has swept away the banks and the shortest distance between the pipeline and the River is now roughly 17–18 feet, only four months later.

Bad River meander in question, from the November 28, 2022 ruling

Of the 21 new monuments Enbridge said they installed to prevent a disaster, when the river was out of its banks or receding, some monuments marking the distance between Line 5 and the Bad River fell due to erosion of the underlying soils, while others were knocked over by floating debris even though the bank underneath remained in place.

April 11, 2022 Photo: David Joe Bates
April 15, 2023 Video: David Joe Bates

May 1, 2023 Emergency Filing

November 28, 2022 Judge Conley Ruling

Over 600 miles long, Line 5 transports 23 million gallons of natural gas liquids, light crude oil, and light synthetic crude every day, partially refined from Alberta tar sands, through the heart of the Great Lakes.

Communities United by Water has requested an emergency meeting with Governor Evers to discuss who has the power to protect Wisconsinites and our resources under these circumstances.

Flooding in Ashland County in the Bad River watershed along Highway 2, 2016. Photo: MinnPost Earth Journal, December 12, 2019

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One Comment on “Bad River Band files papers in Federal Court about deterioration around Line 5 pipeline during emergency flooding”

  1. Laurie Longtine May 4, 2023 at 2:02 pm #

    There is no room for “agreement” or compromise here. Either Enbridge shuts the line down or they won’t, playing an awful game of chicken with the stakes being the death and destruction of acres of wetlands, uplands, wildlife, aquatic life, food resources, groundwater, surface water and the Great Lake Superior. The court–and Judge Conley–must recognize this and rule accordingly to force Enbridge to shut down the Black Snake.

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