Enbridge appeals to overturn order that would shut down its pipeline


Madison, Wis. (AP) – A lawyer for energy company Enbridge tried to persuade a federal appeals court Thursday to overturn an order that would shut down part of a pipeline. wisconsin Tribal reservation.

The company argues that U.S. District Judge William Conley improperly ordered Enbridge to close a 12-mile (19 km) section of Line 5 within three years. This section runs across the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Conley also ordered the company to pay millions of dollars in trespass fees to the tribe, Enbridge lawyer Alice Loughran told a three-judge panel at the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

He said Conley’s order violates a 1977 treaty between the United States and Canada that states that no authority in either country shall obstruct the flow of oil and natural gas through pipelines between the two countries. . Enbridge wants to re-route the pipeline around the reservation, but it needs more time to secure permits from multiple government agencies, Loughran said.

“The court’s shutdown order is prohibited,” he said.

The Bad River Tribe’s attorney, Paul Clement, urged the judges to go further than Conley’s order. He urged them to immediately shut down the pipeline to protect the environment from a possible leak and to increase the financial penalty imposed on Enbridge for encroachment on the reservation.

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“Enbridge intends to continue business as usual,” Clement said.

Line 5 transports 23 million gallons (about 87 million liters) of oil and liquefied natural gas per day. The pipeline runs from the city of Superior, Wisconsin, through northern Wisconsin and michigan To Sarnia, Ontario.

The tribe sued Enbridge in 2019 To force the company to remove the portion of Line 5 that crosses its reservation, saying the 71-year-old pipeline is dangerous and the land easement allowing Enbridge to work on the reservation expired in 2013. Enbridge has proposed removing the pipeline from the reservation and rerouting it, but the project largely depends on obtaining permits from multiple government agencies.

Bad River members asked Conley in May to force Enbridge to close parts of Line 5 across their reservation, arguing that erosion poses an immediate threat of rupture and contamination. The company says there has been no spill from Line 5 in Wisconsin since 2002, when a leak at its Superior terminal was contained.

Conley in June Enbridge ordered to shut down Each section of the pipeline operates on reservation until June 2026. He ordered the company to pay more than $5.2 million to the tribe for the encroachment and continued payments as long as the pipeline ran on tribal lands.

Appellate judges questioned why government agencies did not move faster to grant Enbridge a permit to re-route the pipeline. He also penalized the tribe for not taking precautionary measures like placing sandbags around it to protect the area from possible leakage.

Loughran said the tribe has not given Enbridge permission to take protective measures, while Clement said the tribe should not do anything because Enbridge is trespassing.

The judge appeared frustrated by both sides’ refusal to work together. “Both sides have declared war on each other by mutual consent,” Judge Michael Scudder said.

Judge Frank Easterbrook said the panel likely would not issue a decision for at least several months.

Enbridge has been under scrutiny since 2010, when its Line 6B pipeline ruptured in southern Michigan, releasing 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River system.

Michigan’s Democratic Attorney General, Dana Nessel, filed a lawsuit in 2019 seeking to shut down the twin stretches of Line 5, which pass under the Straits of Mackinac, the narrow waterway that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. . Nessel argued that the strike of the anchor could break the line, resulting in a catastrophic leak. That case is still pending in federal appeals court.

Michigan regulators in December approved the company’s $500 million plan to impound part of the pipeline beneath the strait. a tunnel To reduce the risk. The plan is awaiting approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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