The Wisconsin pipeline will continue to cross the Native American reservation as the line is rerouted

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A federal judge will allow an oil and gas pipeline to continue to run on a Native American reservation in northern Wisconsin while its operators work to reroute the line around tribal lands.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge in 2019 asking it to remove the section of line that crosses the tribe’s reservation in Ashland County. The tribe fears the pipeline could burst and contaminate their drinking water.

Enbridge has been working on a 40-mile rerouting around the reserve.

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Western District Judge William Conley ruled on Wednesday that the company can continue to operate the line on the reservation until its relocation project is completed.

A judge has ruled that a pipeline in northern Wisconsin that crosses a Native American reservation can continue to flow while operators work to reroute the line.

The Line 5 pipeline transports oil and natural gas liquids from Superior to Sarnia, Ontario. Enbridge said agreements have been reached with all private landowners along the new pipeline route.

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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is currently finalizing an environmental impact statement for the project. The agency’s draft environmental impact statement has drawn heavy criticism from environmental groups, tribal members and activists who argued it failed to properly assess impacts, including risk spills.

Last month, the DNR investigated a possible spill near the Bad River Reservation after a contractor reported contaminated soil south of Ashland.

Enbridge officials said they couldn’t find a leak in the pipeline and believed the contamination was from a previous release, according to the DNR.

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Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner said “only a trace amount of product” was found during planned maintenance of the system. She said the line had been closed as a precaution.

Nohemi M. Moore