Enbridge Open to Re-Route Line 5 After Legal Action

Enbridge Inc. stated that the company is willing to consider rerouting a section of Line 5 pipeline around the Bad River Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Line 5 carries 540,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude and propane to eastern Michigan.

Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, a Native American tribe in Wisconsin sued the company on Tuesday seeking to shut the pipeline and remove sections of its Line 5 pipeline that run across their reservation due to the risk of a leak.

According to the Bad River Band, it's increasingly likely that the 66-year-old line will rupture and cause catastrophic damage. In 2017, the tribe decided not to renew easements that runs across 12 miles of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior.

“The vast majority of the easements through the reservation extend until 2043; those in question affect only a small fraction of the twelve miles of Line 5 within the reservation. Enbridge has considered re-routing Line 5, and as discussed with the Bad River Band, remains open to this option as a solution,” Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner said in a statement. 


Indian Tribe in Wisconsin Sues Enbridge

A lawsuit against Enbridge Inc. was filed on Tuesday by the Bad River band of Lake Superior Chippewa aimed at forcing the company to shut down Line 5 pipeline that crosses tribal lands in northern Wisconsin.

Line 5 pipeline transports oil and natural gas liquids from Canada to Michigan. This includes a controversial section that runs along the bed of the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. 

Enbridge is seeking to build a tunnel beneath the straits for a new pipeline, but tribal officials say that they no longer want Enbridge to operate the pipeline on tribal lands and fear that a rupture would pose grave environmental damage to the Bad River and other waters that flow to Lake Superior.

“As a community, we are sick of having to bear the fear and anxiety of this line being a constant threat to our community and resources,” said Dylan Bizhikiins Jennings, a tribal member. An Enbridge pipeline spill in 2010 on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan took years and more than $1 billion to clean up. 

“Enbridge has been in good faith negotiations with the Bad River band of Lake Superior Chippewa tribe regarding these easements since 2013,” said Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner in a statement. Line 5 pipeline crosses about 12 miles of reservation lands, according to court documents.


Enbridge Supported by Wisconsin Supreme Court in Dane County Case

A ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court has allowed Enbridge Energy to continue on with their pipeline project in Dane County without any additional insurance, despite the local government putting a requirement on Enbridge’s permit for a $25 million environmental liability policy.

Wisconsin lawmakers stepped in and passed a provision blocking local municipalities from putting liability requirements on an operator if they already had sufficient insurance. After a couple back and forths of courts contesting Enbridge’s quality of insurance, the high court ruled that Enbridge does have comprehensive insurance. According to Enbridge, they have $860 million worth of general liability insurance, including coverage for ’sudden and accidental’ pollution.

Despite the ruling, several people within local government have been adamant that Enbridge has yet to provide proof of adequate insurance for ’sudden and accidental’ cases. Concerned about the decision, Patricia Hammel, a landowner’s attorney, stated that it “allows Enbridge to operate the largest tar sands pipeline in the U.S. across Wisconsin without adequate insurance and exposes our people, land and water to the consequences of a catastrophic spill.”

Enbridge’s oil spill in 2010, in southwest Michigan, polluted almost 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River and cost them $1.2. billion. In addition, the United States fined them for missing deadlines on pipeline inspections prior to the spill, costing them an extra $1.8 million. The cleanup lasted until 2014.

Meanwhile, Enbridge has finished their $1.5 billion pipeline make-over and built the Waterloo pump station, which, according to a spokeswoman of Enbridge, Jennifer Smith, is necessary in order to “ensure a reliable source of energy for decades to come.”


$2.6 Billion Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project Faces Another Obstacle

The two state agencies in Minnesota, The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources said on Tuesday that they can't take final action on the permits for Enbridge Energy's Line 3 replacement project, until problems with its environmental review are resolved.

The agencies said they will continue reviewing the applications, but won’t release the draft permits as scheduled on July 1st. The current Line 3, which was built in the 1960s is increasingly subject to corrosion and cracking, and runs at only about half of its original capacity for safety reasons.

The replacement pipeline would carry Canadian crude from Alberta across northern Minnesota to Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisconsin, which sits near the westernmost tip of Lake Superior. Earlier this month, Minnesota State Court of Appeals ruled that the project's environmental impact statement failed to address the possibility of a spill into the Lake Superior watershed.

"We believe the actions required to address the spill modeling in the Lake Superior watershed can be completed efficiently," Enbridge said.

According to the environmental and tribal groups, the project poses a risk of oil spills in pristine areas of the Mississippi River headwaters region where Native Americans gather wild rice, and that the Canadian tar sands oil that the line would carry accelerates climate change.


Michigan AG Warns to Shut Pipeline in June If No Deal

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Wednesday that if the Governor Gretchen Whitmer cannot reach a resolution with operator Enbridge, she will move to shut Line 5 which runs under the Straits of Mackinac in June.  

Nessel said the state is in "great peril" the longer the oil continues to flow under a sensitive waterway. AG said that she was hopeful that the governor would have a plan for decommissioning the 66-year-old pipes by June 1.

"My team has been meeting on this since the first day that I took office. I want to obviously act quickly because I think every day that Line 5 continues to run is a day that our state is in great peril," Nessel told The Associated Press at the Detroit Regional Chamber's policy conference.

Line 5 carries about 23 million gallons of crude oil daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario. Although environmental groups says that the underwater segment that traverses the Straits of Mackinac is a spill hazard and should be decommissioned, Enbridge says it is in good shape and could operate indefinitely.


PHMSA Files Appeal in Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline Case

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration filed an appeal with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. The administration is appealing to rewrite a federal judge’s decision on an oil spill plan for the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith in Detroit had ruled that the documents were incomplete and had criticized the agency for approving the plans. He said PHMSA had failed to conduct environmental reviews and it must take another look at the plans prepared for Enbridge’s Line 5.

The judge called for an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement in defense of the decisions and also ordered the agency to provide more information about its reasons for approving the plans.

Although the plans were filed by Enbridge in 2015 and 2017, the ruling came in connection with a lawsuit filed by the National Wildlife Federation. Line 5 carries 23 million gallons of oil and liquids per day through Michigan on its way from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario.


Minnesota PUC Confirms Enbridge Energy's Line 3 Pipeline Approval

Enbridge Energy's proposed $7 billion Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement gets final approval from Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the company said on Wednesday. The PUC unanimously rejected the last pending petitions for reconsideration, including one from the state Commerce Department.

“The PUC confirmed its decision to approve the conditions placed on L3R’s (Line 3 Replacement) Certificate of Need – conditions meant to protect Minnesotans – allowing this critical energy infrastructure modernization project to move forward,” Enbridge said in a statement.

Since 1960s, Line 3 has carried Canadian crude from Alberta to Wisconsin and is currently operating at half its capacity. The Line 3 replacement would allow it to return to approved capacity of 760,000 barrels per day.

The PUC initially approved Enbridge’s plan to rebuild the aging 1,031-mile pipeline in June, but that decision was challenged by Minnesota’s governor in February.

The new line would cross Alberta, a corner of North Dakota and northern Minnesota to an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Besides clearing the legal challenges, Calgary-based Enbridge also needs state and federal permits, which the company hopes to secure around end of the year.


Federal Officials Say That a Line 5 Leak Would be Dealt With Swiftly

After Sen. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, questioned the readiness of government agencies as well as Enbridge regarding potential Line 5 leaks, federal officials responded on Monday and said they were prepared to act quickly if there was a leak in Michigan’s sensitive waterways.

The senator was skeptical and mentioned that the handling of a suspected anchor strike last spring exposed flaws in the system.

Enbridge’s Line 5 carries 23 million gallons of oil daily between Superior, Wisconsin and Sarnia, Ontario. Part of that pipeline, approximately 5 miles, runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, where lakes Huron and Michigan converge.

Enbridge has reiterated that the 65-year-old pipeline is in good condition, challenging environmentalists and some elected officials who have said it poses a risk of causing a catastrophic Great Lakes spill and should be decommissioned.

“I don’t want to wait until the next disaster to consider what more we could have done to prevent it,” Peters said.

David Bryson, Enbridge’s senior vice president for liquid pipeline operations, said the Canadian company takes “extra precautions” with the underwater section of Line 5, describing it as “the most inspected segment of pipe in our entire North American network.”

The Seattle Times

Enbridge Line 3 Trespassers Convicted by Jury, Face Jail Time

Two individuals have been convicted by a jury for disorderly conduct and obstruction of an officer after a protest at Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 construction site in Wisconsin late last summer.

The 24-year-old male and 26-year-old female were found guilty of trespassing on the site where Enbridge was working to replace a 12.5-mile segment of their pipeline, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

According to investigations, the 24-year-old secured himself to an excavator at the site as the other person involved streamed the event on social media on August 29, 2017. Both refused requests from sheriffs to leave the site.

The individual who streamed the trespassing was sentenced to 20 days in jail and ordered to pay fines. The judge emphasized that “this type of behavior will not be tolerated” and commented on how these actions endanger all those involved.

The 24-year-old who secured himself to an excavator has still not been sentenced.

Rapid City Journal

Chippewa Tribe in Wisconsin Wants Pipeline Section Removed from Reservation

An Indian tribe in Wisconsin wants 12 miles of pipe to be dug out and removed from its reservation after 64 years of the pipeline's operation.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's tribal council on Wednesday approved a decision to refuse the renewal of easements for 11 parcels of land along Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline. The decision also requests that the pipeline be decommissioned and taken out of the tribe's reservation as a way to protect the tribe's land and water from potential oil spills.

According to Brad Shamla, Enbridge's vice president of U.S. operations, it is too early to know if the tribe has the authority to remove the pipeline from its reservation.

Dylan Jennings, a member of the Bad River Band, said the group's push to remove the pipeline has nothing to do with the recent protests at the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline, which carries oil and natural gas liquids 645 miles from Canada to Michigan, has been in safe operation for more than 60 years but remains a high-alert threat to many who believe it could rupture and cause significant damage to the Great Lakes.

ABC News

DNR Grants Permit for Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Project in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has granted a waterway and wetlands permit to Enbridge Energy for their Line 3 replacement project, which will replace a 14-mile section of a pipeline that has been in operation since the 1960s.

The current pipeline has been in operation at reduced capacity because of anomalies found during integrity tests. The new line will be 36 inches in diameter and carry up to 760,000 barrels per day.

In the permit given by the DNR, the pipeline company is required to have an independent consultant oversee that the construction and operation of the line meet state compliance standards as well as minimize negative impacts on the environment.

Enbridge is reviewing the permit and final environmental impact statement from the state and does not yet have a date for the start of construction.

The construction timeline also depends on a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who said could take up to a month to review whether they will issue a permit for the project.

Wisconsin Public Radio

Enbridge Invests in Clean-up Equipment in Case of Oil Spill

Straits of Mackinac By Louie Wannahocka - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45126309


Canadian energy company Enbridge announced Monday that it will spend $7 million over the next two years on additional safety equipment to expedite the clean-up process in the event of a spill, despite the company’s insistence that the likelihood of there being a spill is incredibly unlikely.

The purchase includes equipment that would help quickly recover oil in open water and in icy conditions in the Straits of Mackinac. The company is also taking extra precaution with the purchase of floating barriers that can contain and absorb oil in the event of a spill.

Enbridge announced their safety equipment buys when it launched a relations tour in Michigan, a public relations event designed to convince surrounding communities that their Line 5 pipeline has never leaked and poses no risk to the scenic area.

Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that runs through Michican’s peninsulas, starting in Superior, Wisconsin, and ending in Sarnia, Ontario. Built in 1953, the pipeline travels under the Straits of Mackinac and carries 23 million gallons of light crude oil and liquefied natural gas daily.

Although the pipeline is inspected regularly and monitored continuously by its operations center, environmental groups and communities are concerned about its high-risk placement in the straits area and want the line shut down or rerouted.

A senior manager of emergency response with Enbridge stated that despite the very unlikely chance of there being a spill, the company is ready to respond.