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Canada’s Use of 1977 Pipeline Treaty to Block Recent U.S. Line 5 Shutdown Order Is Violating Indigenous Rights – Environmental Defense

November 24, 2023

Earlier this summer, we celebrated the news that a U.S. judge in Wisconsin had ordered the Canadian oil company, Enbridge Inc., to shut down the section of the Line 5 pipeline that runs through the territory of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa by June 2026. Since 2019, the Tribe has been fighting a legal battle with Enbridge to have the pipeline removed from its territory and watershed. In the ongoing legal battle, Enbridge has been found guilty of trespass on tribal territory since 2013.

In response to the court case, Canada has filed two amicus briefs (legal documents presenting arguments to the court) in the Bad River Band v. Enbridge Line 5 court case, seeking to block the shutdown order by invoking a 1977 pipeline treaty.

The old, deteriorating pipeline poses an imminent and direct threat to the Great Lakes basin, particularly at two high-profile and highly sensitive areas: the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, and further upstream at Bad River (also known as Mishkiiziibii/Medicine River), a crucial tributary to Lake Superior.

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