Bad River Band Files Federal Suit Seeking Removal of Enbridge Pipeline

On July 23, 2019, the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians filed suit against Enbridge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin to force the decommissioning and removal of the Line 5 pipeline, which runs through twelve miles of sensitive habitat in the Bad River Reservation.  Enbridge has continued to operate the 66-year-old pipeline for six years since easements allowing it to maintain a right of way in the Reservation expired in 2013, and the Band’s action seeks to bring the company’s unauthorized presence to an end.  With each passing day, Enbridge’s continued unlawful operation of the pipeline threatens the Bad River watershed, including Lake Superior and the Kakagon and Bad River sloughs, which are complex freshwater estuaries stewarded by the Band for centuries and internationally recognized as some of the most sensitive freshwater estuarine ecosystems on earth.  While a significant threat of ruptures and leaks exists for the entire stretch of Line 5’s path across the Reservation, there is a looming disaster just east of where Line 5 presently crosses the Bad River, as the river channel is rapidly migrating towards the pipeline due to bank erosion.  Unless the pipeline is decommissioned and removed, the river will inevitably expose the pipeline, subjecting it to stresses that it was not designed to withstand and making a rupture all but certain.

The Band’s Complaint asserts public nuisance, trespass, and ejectment claims, and requests that the district court enjoin Enbridge from further use of the pipeline and require it to remove the pipeline from the Reservation.

Kanji & Katzen, P.L.L.C., the National Wildlife Federation, and Hooper Hathaway Price Beuche & Wallace represent the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in this case.

Press Release

July 23, 2019 – Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians