By Peter Anderson


PK Hammel presenting oral argument to the Supreme Court on behalf of landowners living adjacent to Enbridge’s Line 61. Photo: WisconsinEye.

Do you remember all those long committee meetings and court hearings, where we overflowed the chambers again and again and again?

I hope you do, because all that hard work paid off in the original, groundbreaking decision by the Dane County Zoning & Land Regulation Committee to require that Enbridge purchase dedicated clean-up insurance as a condition of expanding the flow of tar sands through our county.

And it paid off before the Court of Appeals last year, when the heightened public interest led that court to commit the significant time to read and absorb the record, so they wouldn’t be thrown off the core merits of the case by Enbridge’s deliberate obfuscation.

Now the case has reached the Supreme Court, and the fight is getting a lot more challenging, especially with liberal Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Rebecca Dallet withdrawing from the case. This leaves us with a lineup of four justices — largely elected with huge political campaign contributions from the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and Club for Growth — against  one, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, the only one of the five widely respected for fair-mindedness and impartiality.

That said, when the Supreme Court hands down its decision in about two months, the case will have established the critical precedent of making the fossil fuel industry financially responsible for the risks it imposes, in contrast to the “lemon socialism” advocated by Enbridge. That precedent will stand, regardless of whatever travesty the state Supreme Court inflicts under the corrosive influence of massive corporate campaign contributions.


350 Madison supporters following the Supreme Court hearing in Enbridge v. Dane County. Photo: Patricia Moore Kaiser.