350 Madison continues to pursue every legal means to oppose tar sands pipelines through Wisconsin, especially ones that don’t carry sufficient third-party cleanup insurance to remediate major oil spills.

Enbridge wants to dramatically expand its Waterloo Pump Station as part of multistage project to triple the capacity of its tar sands Line 61 through Wisconsin, including the northeast corner of Dane County. Last February, we worked with landowners living near the pump station to file a lawsuit against Enbridge, as a sharp tactic to work around the company’s devious backroom lobbying that won midnight passage of budget riders it thought would stop the Dane County Zoning and Land Regulation (ZLR) Committee from enforcing the cleanup insurance requirement it imposed a year ago. The case, which is being prosecuted without charge by Illinois attorney Tom Burney and Wisconsin attorney Patricia Hammel, asks the courts to enjoin Enbridge from opening its expanded pump station unless it has purchased the cleanup insurance demanded by the ZLR.

Enbridge responded by filing a motion to dismiss, which is a standard legal game corporate lawyers play on the off chance the judge will agree that there is no cause of action (that’s jargon for not having legal grounds to justify being in court). Over the last month, briefs were filed, and on Tuesday, April 11, oral argument was scheduled before Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess. The judge started the hearing by stating that he was going to order the case consolidated with an earlier case that Enbridge had filed against the county demanding that the insurance condition be removed because of the budget rider.

This ruling was neither positive nor negative for our action, but just one of the vagaries of the legal system that can happen. After considering the many different ins and outs of the case that are implicated in this consolidation order, our attorneys believe that the net effect on our cause will be neutral — more complicated, but overall neutral.

— Peter Anderson