Bad River Band Ojibwe call for shutdown of Enbridge’s line 5
Originally built in 1953, Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline carries crude oil and liquid natural gas 645 miles across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“That pipeline is directly threatening Lake Superior at the Bad River,” said Carl Sack, with the Northwoods Socialist Collective, while attending a line 5 protest in Superior on Tuesday morning. “The river has eroded its banks to within ten feet of the pipe. And one major storm event could cause a blowout. That would be a major oil spill right into Lake Superior. And into the Bad River band of Ojibwe’s wild rice beds, which are a vital treaty protected cultural resource.”
Advocates for line 5, say its critical it remains in operation. And that shutting down a pipeline like line 5 would dramatically increase gas and diesel prices in the region.
“The important thing for people to remember is we need the energy,” said Mark Graul with the Wisconsin Jobs and Energy Coalition. “And we know objectively that pipelines are the safest way to do it. If we’re not using pipelines, we’ve got to put the energy on trucks and trains and that’s not as safe as a pipeline.”
Those with the opposition to line 5, think it should be abandoned for a greener option.
“If they reroute line five, it’s going to be a disaster,” said Sack. “It’s outdated infrastructure that should be replaced by wind and solar.”
But supporters of Line 5 say it’s not that easy.
“We believe that there should be an all of the above strategy in terms of how we get our energy,” said Graul. “Absolutely, wind and solar a part of that mix. But we also know that we need oil. That we need propane. We need these things now and today, and that that’s not going to go away immediately. We look forward to continuing that process. That includes the safe transportation of liquid fuels through pipelines.”
Enbridge has not assigned an official lifespan to Line 5. A page can be found on the company’s website which addresses question surrounding the designed lifespan of Line 5.
According to Enbridge’s site; “Pipelines, like all infrastructure, age at different rates due to environment, general use and other factors—and have an indefinite lifespan if they’re monitored and properly maintained.”
According to research conducted by the Michigan Engineering Research News Center, “Enbridge says it never gave the line a lifespan when it was built, other organizations estimate that it was designed to last 50 years.”
The Michigan Environmental Council and the Wisconsin chapter of the Sierra Club, two non-profit organizations which advocate for change in environmental policy, estimate the pipeline’s lifetime at 40 to 50 years. Line 5 is 69 years old today.
“Line 5 is constantly monitored and continues to operate safely, carrying crude oil and natural gas liquids that millions rely on for energy every day,” said Enbridge in a statement released on Wednesday. “Enbridge has offered the Bad River Band over a dozen project proposals to reinforce the riverbank near Line 5. We stand ready to begin work as soon as the Bad River Band grants permits. Shutting down Line 5 is not an answer – that would create shortages, price spikes, refinery closures, and the loss of jobs.”
Tribal elders from the Bad River Band of Ojibwe say the Bad River and its surrounding watershed is too crucial and too precious to risk.
“We’ve been connected to the Bad River for as long as we’ve been here. The wild rice that we have in the slews, that’s the reason we’re in Mashkii ziibii. Everything that that that river provides for us with the water, the plants, the animals, we’re all connected to it. Without that wild rice or Manoomin, we won’t exist as a people as we have been.”