By Eric Hansen, Wisconsin author/activist

This blog post was originally written for a 2015 regional campaign push against Enbridge’s crude oil pipeline plans. Today, as we mobilize against Enbridge’s plan to reroute Line 5 within the Bad River watershed, these empowering stories of successful tribal and citizens’ campaigns blocking dangerous industrial projects are still well worth passing on.

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Photo: Monika Blazs

A few years back I walked 1,700 miles while researching Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula books, experiencing firsthand many of the magnificent shorelines, sparkling streams and memorable natural areas the current crude oil invasion threatens.

It is heartbreaking to imagine globs of spilled crude oil smothering those places — or an oil train explosion decimating our communities.

Fortunately, during that research I also learned of the antidote for the crude oil invasion we face: the powerful grassroots citizen conservation campaigns that time and again have protected our region from ill-advised industrial schemes.

Among those inspiring stories:

  • Ojibwe leader Walter Bresette and the Bad River train blockade (look it up and you may be smiling for days);
  • Wisconsin tribes and citizens blocking Exxon’s plans for a dangerous mine on the headwaters of the Wolf River — and then pivoting to mobilize notably lopsided votes in the legislature for a historic “prove it is safe first” mining law;
  • Michiganders, with help from allies such as Aldo Leopold, campaigning to protect that timeless landscape we know today as the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Similar stories are sprinkled throughout our region’s history and they are well worth seeking out.

Stories empower us and illuminate the path ahead.

Write another chapter in this righteous history. Write a comment to DNR; object to Enbridge’s dangerous plan to reroute Line 5.

Big Oil has big, ugly plans for the Great Lakes region and they don’t want the public knowing about those schemes.

Tar sands crude oil promoters need a route from Alberta to salt water to export to the world market.

Ferocious resistance by the tribes and ranchers of British Columbia and Nebraska has led to plans for a massive expansion of crude oil pipelines here, in the Great Lakes region.

Connect the dots: Crude oil pipelines and trains threaten our water, our communities’ health and our planet’s health.

Now is the time to mobilize citizen action — and insist that elected officials stand up for not only clean water but also the clean government procedures that protect clean water.

Scan our regional history; examine the citizens’ campaigns in Nebraska and British Columbia and one thing is clear:

We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

Write a comment to DNR. Insist they block Enbridge’s reroute plan for Line 5.

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Comments must be dated no later than July 11. Submit your comments by emailing them to or mailing them to Line 5 Comments, DNR (EA/7), 101 S. Webster St., Madison, WI 53707.