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Tribe says 'remove Line 5' despite Enbridge offer of $24M

A rocky river flows through a forest.
Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons
The Bad River Reservation is named for the river that flows through it into Lake Superior.

A tribe in Northern Wisconsin still wants Line 5 off their land, despite a $24 million offer from Enbridge.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge Energy earlier this year, asking them to immediately shut down the portion of the Line 5 oil pipeline that runs through their reservation.

The tribe says easements allowing Enbridge to operate the pipeline have expired. The company disputes that.

Last week, Enbridge offered Bad River $12 million to settle the lawsuit and $2 million a year to keep operating the pipeline on their land for the time being.

The company also said it’s exploring re-routing Line 5 outside the reservation and promised an extra $10 million to the tribe if that happens.

In an e-mail statement, Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy said the company would also still be nterested in keeping Line 5 on the reservation permanently.

"Enbridge remains open to discussing a settlement with the band based on a longer-term operation of Line 5 within the reservation where the band and Enbridge could commit to on-going cooperation on maintenance, including band employment and economic development opportunities," said Duffy. "With this on-reservation settlement, Enbridge would be open to rebuilding all or parts of Line 5 with on-going collaboration, input, and participation."

But, the Bad River Band just wants the company to leave the watershed. In a statement on his Facebook page, Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins says he won't use the term "rejection" in regards to the settlement offer, because that might imply there was some kind of negotiation process.

"When it comes to the Bad River Tribe and Enbridge’s latest public manipulation strategy, to throw monetary terms around in the media, our Tribal Council's position has never wavered," says Wiggins. "Enbridge’s expired leases were rejected and our litigation is rooted in the protection of the Bad River Watershed hydrology. Whatever that ends up looking like for Enbridge is their problem. Decommissioning and removing the whole of Line 5 sounds like a great start."

A section of Line 5 runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Tribes in that area have also called for the pipeline to be shut down, and the State of Michigan is currently suing Enbridge for the same.

Kaye LaFond
Kaye is an alumnus of Michigan Tech's environmental engineering program. She got her start making maps for the Traverse City-Based water news organization Circle of Blue, and, since then, she's been pretty devoted to science communication and data visualization.