Federal Appeals Court Hears Arguments from Bad River, Enbridge Regarding Pipeline Shutdown Order

A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments Thursday in a case that has a Canadian energy firm and a Lake Superior tribe fighting over the fate of an oil and gas pipeline running across northern Wisconsin.

The 70-year-old Line 5 operated by Enbridge, Inc. can carry up to 23 million gallons per day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior across northern Wisconsin and Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.

Last year, a federal judge ordered Enbridge to pay $5.1 million for trespassing on lands owned by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. U.S. District Court Judge William Conley ruled the company must remove its Line 5 pipeline from those lands within three years.

The Bad River tribe wants the federal appeals court to order Enbridge to turn over profits from the continued operation of Line 5 and immediately stop trespassing on tribal lands.

Enbridge argues the company isn’t trespassing on lands with expired easements because the tribe signed a 1992 agreement that the pipeline would continue to operate until 2043 in exchange for $800,000.