You have surely heard that Enbridge is on the move in Ashland and Iron counties, buying up land and easements, and the corporation will soon begin the permitting process with the state for what it hopes will be a quick and easy reroute of Line 5. Because the Bad River Band has demonstrated that Enbridge cannot operate safely within their reservation, Enbridge is looking to create a U-shaped reroute path south of the reservation but still within the watersheds of the Bad River and Lake Superior.

In addition to crossing most of the headwater creeks, rivers, and wetlands of the Bad River Watershed, Enbridge’s route would cross the Bad River upstream of the Copper Falls State Park. A rupture would threaten the fish nurseries, wetlands, creeks, and rivers within the Bad River Watershed and ultimately contaminate Lake Superior. Further, the impact on private and public water sources, agricultural and recreational land (Copper Falls State Park), economic sustainability, and Indigenous treaty rights would be enormous.

Finally, the presence of Line 5 and the threat of its rupture challenge the resources of local municipalities in fulfilling their responsibilities to the public in relation to road infrastructure, safety and emergency response, and maintenance of a tax base to support services. In 2010, a massive rupture in an Enbridge pipeline in Marshall, Michigan, gushed for 17 hours. What would happen to Lake Superior (and the other Great Lakes) if a million gallons poured into it? Would Enbridge have the ability to ensure a prompt and adequate emergency response, not to mention the levels of liability coverage and technical skills for remediation? We hope we never find out.

It is not acceptable to put the entire Great Lakes ecosystem at risk. The current Line 5 does that, and so would the proposed reroute. Enbridge is trying to rush this reroute, at a time when there is increasing public information that Line 5 is not even necessary. We need to organize our community and coordinate with state and regional allies so that we can ensure that Line 5 is decommissioned.

Line 5 is like a sword hanging over the Bad River Reservation and Lake Superior. Let’s remove the danger in time, and preserve our lands and waters.

— Mike Wiggins, Jr., Chairman, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Jan Penn, League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties; Phyllis Hasbrouck, Wisconsin Safe Energy (WiSE) Alliance; and Elizabeth Ward, Sierra Club Wisconsin