Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Madison, WI protest demands Department of Natural Resources shut down Line 5

By staff

Madison, WI protest against Line 5

Madison, WI – On August 19, more than 60 people rallied and marched during the weekly Dane County Farmers Market to demand that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) put an end to Line 5. The DNR holds the authority to approve or deny the permit that Enbridge, the Canada-based corporation that owns the pipeline, needs in order to continue its operations in the state. The actions were organized by students and youth with Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE) and drew support from many organizations and community members.

“We’re so excited to have so many people out here to show support for the Bad River Band of the Greater Chippewa Indians to urge the DNR to shut down the Line 5 pipeline,” said Marco Marquez, the Program Manager for Wisconsin ACE.

After the rally at the market, the assembled crowd marched around the State Capitol building before breaking away and heading to the state offices of the DNR to deliver a petition for them to deny the permits to Enbridge for their Line 5 pipeline.

“I’m 16 and I can't remember a time when I wasn't involved in the pipeline fight. I was 11 running around at camps in northern Minnesota where we were there to protest Line 3. I visited communities in the Dakotas that were impacted by the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said Xanthi Salman, a student leader with ACE Madison and a member of the Dane County Youth Environmental Committee. “After fighting pipelines for so long I’m very aware of and absolutely enraged by [these corporations] disregarding frontline communities. And now the pattern is repeating itself in our state with the Line 5 pipeline.”

Line 5 transports millions of gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin to a refinery in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The pipeline cuts through the heart of the Bad River Reservation, the home of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and then runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the waterway that serves as the dividing line between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Built in 1953, the 70-year old pipeline has spilled more than 1 million gallons of crude oil over its lifetime.

The struggle over Line 5 has been decades in the making, led primarily by members of the Bad River Band. A watershed moment occurred in 2013 when many of the legal agreements that allowed Enbridge to operate their pipeline on the reservation land expired. The tribe moved at once to expel the corporation from their lands in order to protect their cultural and natural resources, but early negotiations went nowhere.

The Bad River Band ultimately passed a resolution not only to remove the pipeline from their lands but from the entire watershed. Enbridge proceeded to disregard the wishes of the tribe in spite of the expiration of the easements which allowed them to operate on their land, and so the struggle went to the courts. In June 2023, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled in favor of the Bad River Band, stating that Enbridge needs to shut down the segment of their pipeline that runs through the reservation within three years and to pay the tribe $5 million. However, Enbridge filed an appeal on June 30 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. While the legal battle carries on, the movement in communities across Wisconsin is beginning to pick up.

#MadisonWI #EnvironmentalJustice #line5