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A U.S. District judge has ordered Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge to close within three years parts of the Line 5 oil pipeline crossing tribal land in Wisconsin and to pay around $5 million for trespassing.
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, a Native American tribe, last month sought an immediate shutdown in court, due to erosion of the Bad River riverbank, which threatens to lead to a rupture of the pipeline.
The Wisconsin band’s motion was supported by Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan, the state which has been trying to shut down Line 5 for years.
The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians sued Enbridge in 2019, seeking the removal of Line 5 from the Bad River Reservation.
Enbridge is proposing a relocation of a 12-mile section of Line 5 from the Bad River Reservation, replacing it with approximately 41 miles of pipe outside of the Reservation. The company, however, hasn’t obtained yet from the Department of Natural Resources the permits it needs for the relocation project.
A month after Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sought in court an immediate shutdown of Line 5, U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison, Wisconsin, denied the motion for immediate shutdown, and gave Enbridge three years to shut down parts of the pipeline passing through tribal land.
An immediate shutdown would “spark at least temporary shortages and increased prices for refined gas, propane and butane in the Upper Midwest and Eastern Canada, creating hardships, specially for the poor and other economically challenged households,” the judge wrote, as carried by AP.
“Nevertheless, given the environmental risks, the court will order Enbridge to adopt a more conservative shutdown and purge plan,” judge Conley added.
Enbridge said it would appeal the court order and “remains open to an amicable resolution with the Bad River Band.”
Enbridge’s plan to relocate a section of Line 5 outside the Bad River Reservation is the long-term solution to the dispute, but it depends on “timely government permit approvals to allow construction to be completed within the next three years,” the company added.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.