The Line 5 oil pipeline that snakes through Wisconsin and Michigan won a key permit this month: pending federal studies and approvals, Canada-based Enbridge Energy will build a new section of pipeline and tunnel underneath the Great Lakes despite widespread Indigenous opposition. You may not have heard of Line 5, but over the next few years, the controversy surrounding the 645-mile pipeline is expected to intensify.
The 70-year-old pipeline stretches from Superior, Wisconsin, through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario, transporting up to 540,000 gallons of oil and natural gas liquids per day. It’s part of a network of more than 3,000 miles of pipelines that the company operates throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota where hundreds of opponents were arrested or cited in 2021 for protesting construction, including citizens and members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and White Earth Band of Ojibwe.
Now, Enbridge Energy, with the support of the Canadian government, is seeking approvals to build a new $500 million conduit to replace an underwater section of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, while facing lawsuits backed by dozens of Indigenous nations as well as the state of Michigan.