Line 5 Pipeline: Wisconsin Reroute

The Line 5 oil pipeline crosses more than 280 rivers and streams that flow indirectly into the Great Lakes, waters that supply drinking water to over 40 million people.


Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa


Regional Office / Program

Case Overview

Line 5 is a 645-mile pipeline operated by Enbridge Energy that transports crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario. The 69-year-old pipeline has ruptured at least 30 times in the past 50 years, releasing more than 1 million gallons of oil.

The Great Lakes are the lifeblood of Tribal Nations across Ontario, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who depend on its connected tributaries, coastal waters, groundwater aquifers, and fish and plant populations to sustain their supply of drinking water, food, and ancient medicines.

In 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources released a deeply flawed draft environmental review of a dangerous plan by Enbridge Energy to relocate part of the Line 5 oil pipeline where it runs through the Bad River watershed. Both the plan and the environmental review utterly failed to analyze the hazards this proposal creates for the surrounding communities, including the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, as well as the ecosystems of the surrounding rivers and the local drinking water supply.

Earthjustice represents the Bad River Band in challenging the environmental review of the pipeline.

The Tribe’s Reservation sits within the Bad River watershed, a critical Lake Superior tributary that spans over 1,000 miles of interconnected rivers including the White River (Waabishkaa-ziibi) and the Bad River (Mashkiigon-ziibi). The watershed is the cultural epicenter of the Bad River Band, and keeping it healthy has major environmental and economic significance.

In a related case, the Bay Mills Indian Community, an Ojibwe Tribal Nation, is advocating and litigating to shut down the Line 5 pipeline and prevent a proposed tunnel project underneath the Great Lakes. Earthjustice is representing Bay Mills in its legal fight.

The Bad and White rivers flow through the Bad River Reservation and into Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline crosses both rivers and threatens the Bad River watershed and reservation.
Jaida Grey Eagle for Earthjustice

Case Updates

April 15, 2022 Document

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Enbridge Line 5 Relocation Project, Wisconsin DNR

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa submitted the following comments to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Line 5 Segment Relocation Project issued on December 16, 2021.

March 29, 2022 Document

Bad River Band Comment Letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Formal comments on the Section 404 and Section 10 Permit Application for the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline Segment Relocation Project

Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr. at the Tribe's reservation in Wisconsin where Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline crosses.
January 31, 2022 Article

How a Shoddy Environmental Review Could Cause a Catastrophic Oil Spill in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s inadequate environmental analysis of Enbridge’s rushed and haphazard Line 5 pipeline reroute does grave injustice to frontline Tribal communities.