The intertribal agency calls into question the examination of the rerouting of line 5 | News, Sports, Jobs
SUPERIOR, Wisconsin (AP) – An intertribal agency has said that Wisconsin’s environmental review project for a planned rerouting of an oil and gas pipeline through northern Wisconsin is incomplete and flawed.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released its draft environmental impact assessment for an approximately 40-mile diversion of Enbridge Line 5 in Ashland and Iron counties. The pipeline transports up to 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of petroleum and natural gas liquids per day from Superior, Wisconsin, through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge, a Canadian company, is seeking to relocate the pipeline after the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued the company in 2019 to shut it down and remove it from its reserve.
The proposed route is expected to cross nearly 200 water bodies and temporarily affect 135 acres (55 hectares) of wetlands. Enbridge says the nearly 70-year-old pipeline is a vital fuel link across the region.
Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which represents 11 Ojibway tribes, told the DNR in a December 10 letter that the state’s review had significant information gaps.
The panel says it does not have enough data on the effects an oil spill would have on downstream waters, including Lake Superior. They also say it does not assess compliance with Bad River Tribe water quality standards or the combined impacts of other projects.
“There really has to be a thorough description of the risks posed by putting this pipeline around the reserve … and Enbridge doesn’t have a great history of spills,” said John Coleman, chief of the commission’s environmental section.
Enbridge was responsible for one of the nation’s largest onshore oil spills in July 2010, which contaminated nearly 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and cost more than $ 1.2 billion to clean up. More recently, Minnesota regulators fined the company $ 3 million for failing to follow state environmental laws after Enbridge breached an underground aquifer during the construction of Line 3, releasing at least 24 million gallons of water.
Line 5 has had about 30 spills that have released more than 1 million gallons of petroleum and natural gas liquids to land since 1968, according to federal pipeline safety data obtained by the National Wildlife Federation.
The draft review indicates that an oil spill into nearby surface waters like the Bad River would temporarily alter water quality for weeks or even months. Analysis indicated that a large oil spill is unlikely to reach the lake “Because much of it would be trapped in sediment and vegetation at the bottom of the river, along streams and banks and in wetlands before reaching this far downstream.” “
The commission added that the agency’s review appears to rule out alternatives based on Enbridge’s analysis, includes issues with reference to treaty rights along the route, lack of sections on the quality of the water and details the incorrect route location and mapping.
Ben Callan, head of the DNR’s integration services section, declined to comment on the commission’s comments. He noted that the agency intended to review all comments to update, clarify or correct any information.
The company said in a statement Friday that it is delighted the rerouting is going ahead.
“An agreement has been reached with all private landowners along the 40 mile (bypass), chosen because it minimizes environmental impacts and protects critical resources. “ wrote Michael Barnes, an Enbridge spokesperson. “We will move forward with construction once all necessary permits have been received. “
Unions and the state’s largest business lobby backed the project and argued that closing the line would negatively impact Wisconsin businesses and residents. They highlighted the 700 jobs that would create.
Enbridge is currently fighting efforts by the State of Michigan to close Line 5 in the Great Lakes. The pipeline provides approximately 65% of the propane supplied to residents of the Upper Peninsula and approximately 55% of the state’s propane fuel.