A Canadian energy firm says it won't seek to condemn private property for a proposed pipeline relocation project in northern Wisconsin because it's reached agreements with around 300 landowners along the route.
Enbridge wants to move its Line 5 pipeline after the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa filed a lawsuit to shut down and remove it. The line, which carries up to 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior to Sarnia, Ontario, crosses a 12-mile stretch of the tribe's reservation.
The company withdrew its application with the Public Service Commission on Friday. Regulators would have reviewed whether the 40-mile reroute was in the public interest, and Enbridge was set to face a contested case hearing.
That is no longer necessary, according to Trent Wetmore, director of Midwest Operations for Enbridge.
"We designed and have now acquired an approximate 40-mile route, which will minimize environmental and social impacts while protecting sensitive resources," said Wetmore.
Landowners, community members and environmental groups have disputed the company's claims that it can build a pipeline with minimal impacts to the Bad River Watershed, which drains into Lake Superior. They fear the project threatens the water quality of more than 180 waterbodies, as well as groundwater supplies to homes in the area.
Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins has also said the tribe intends to fight to remove Line 5 from the region due to the significance of the watershed. Enbridge offered the tribe a $30 million settlement, while Bad River asked for $45 million for trespassing in addition to shutting down and removing the pipeline.
Multiple groups who sought to intervene in Enbridge's case before the commission are disappointed they won't have an opportunity to present their position, according to Rob Lee, a staff attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates.