Judge orders Enbridge to shut down pipeline

June 18, 2023
Robert Ayers

A federal judge has just ordered Enbridge, the Canadian energy company, to shut down its oil pipeline.  

The Washington Examiner reports that U.S. District Judge William Conley gave the order in a ruling that he released on Friday.

The pipeline referred to is Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline.

The Examiner reports:

Line 5 transports 540,000 gallons of fuel per day from Canada to the Great Lakes region. The same amount would require the equivalent of 2,000 trucks to transport.


The lawsuit stems from a Wisconsin indigenous group called the Bad River Band.

According to Reuters, the group filed a lawsuit against the energy company in 2019. The outlet reports:

[The group argued] that riverbank erosion threatened a "looming disaster" that warranted removal of the pipeline and . . . that the company no longer had a legal right to operate on the property after pipeline easements allowing it to use the land expired in 2013.

Conley ruled on the lawsuit last year.

He agreed with the group about the trespassing, but he refused to shut down the pipeline.

Conley indicated that, in his view, based on the evidence brought before him, it is unlikely that the erosion will cause a rupture. Nonetheless, Conley asked the parties to put forth a plan to shut down the pipeline.

The latest

About a month ago, the group told Conley that an immediate shutdown of the pipeline was necessary due to heavy spring rains that eroded the riverbank that was protecting the pipe. Conley's latest ruling is in response to this filing from the group.

The Examiner reports:

Conley ordered that Enbridge adopt a new plan for its Line 5 pipeline within 21 days, and redevelop a new route within the next three years that avoids the current 12 mile route which crosses into the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation in Wisconsin. Judge Conley additionally ordered the company to pay the tribe a fee of $5.1 million for trespassing onto the tribe's protected lands.

Enbridge has put out a statement in response to the ruling in which it said that it "disagrees with several aspects of the Court’s orders, including that Enbridge is in trespass, and that Line 5 must cease operations on the Bad River Reservation within three years."

Accordingly, Enbridge is going to appeal Conley's ruling. The company said:

Enbridge’s position has long been that in a 1992 contract between Enbridge and the Band, the Band consented to operations of Line 5 on the Reservation through 2043. Enbridge plans to appeal the Court’s decision.

A shutdown of the pipeline, especially an immediate shutdown, would be expected to have a significant negative impact on the market.

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