(Washington) A U.S. judge ordered Enbridge to pay $5.1 million to the Chippewas of the Bad River First Nation in Lake Superior. The company will also have to remove Line 5 from this territory within three years.
In his ruling on Friday, however, Judge William Conley did not order the controversial cross-border pipeline to be closed immediately.
The judge noted that one cannot close an infrastructure like the pipeline 5 for a simple question of encroachment on a few parcels of land. It’s a bigger public policy issue than that, he said.
In other words, the First Nation, despite the validity of its arguments, does not have the power to shut down the pipeline.
It is an issue that “involves not only the sovereign rights of the band, but also the rights of several states and the international relations between the United States and Canada.”
The court grants an additional three years to carry out work to reroute the pipeline. “If Enbridge is unable to do so, these three years will give the affected public and market participants time to adjust to a permanent closure of Line 5,” wrote Justice Conley.
According to him, the risk of a breach in the infrastructure crossing the territory of the First Nation meets the definition of public nuisance of the American federal law.
He adds that Enbridge has been encroaching on this territory since 2013 since the company let certain permits expire.
Enbridge has already agreed to relocate the pipeline, critical infrastructure supplying energy to much of the U.S. Midwest as well as Ontario and Quebec.
Enbridge lawyers intend to appeal the delay granted by the judge, said a spokeswoman, Juli Kellner. In a statement, the company makes it clear that the rerouting project will not be able to be completed in time.
“The company believes that the court’s decision to order Line 5 to cease operations within three years does not hold water from a legal standpoint. We intend to appeal. »
Any closure, even temporary, “would jeopardize the delivery of a reliable and affordable energy resource to businesses and families across the United States and Canada, disrupt local and regional economies, and violate the Pipeline Agreement.” transit,” Ms. Kellner added.
During the hearings, the Chippewa First Nation claimed that spring flooding made the risk of a breach in its Northern Wisconsin Territory too great to ignore.
Enbridge had defended itself by saying that the First Nation is overestimating the risk and preventing the company from taking protective measures.
Line 5 advocates, including the federal government, say a shutdown would cause major economic disruption in the Prairies and the U.S. Midwest, where it supplies raw materials to refineries in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
It also supplies major refining facilities in Ontario and Quebec and is essential to the production of jet fuel for major airports on both sides of the Canada-US border, including Detroit Metropolitan and Pearson International in Toronto.