Sierra Club Statement on Line 5 Shutdown Order on Bad River Band Reservation


MADISON, WI – A federal judge on Friday ordered the Canadian oil company, Enbridge, to shut down the section of the disastrous Line 5 pipeline that trespasses on the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The Bad River Band released a statement on Monday.

The ruling comes after the Bad River Band argued in court that the sacred water and land is at risk of an environmental disaster given serious erosion that could lead to pipeline rupture. The Band – a sovereign nation – has reiterated that Enbridge is required to respect and abide by their decision making power. The judge confirmed Enbridge is trespassing and held that the Line 5 pipeline “would unquestionably be a public nuisance.”  Enbridge is also responsible for compensating Bad River Band with a measly $5.15 million for trespassing along with providing a portion of its profits until the pipeline ceases operation on the tribal land.

“Line 5 has spilled 33 times and at least 1.1 million gallons along its length since 1968; plain and simple Enbridge cannot be trusted with this aging pipeline – which has long outlived its anticipated lifespan,” Sierra Club Wisconsin Chapter Director Elizabeth Ward, said. “While we welcome this decision, three years to decommission this pipeline is too long a time frame and leaves the Tribe at risk of environmental disaster due to Enbridge’s carelessness, mismanagement and unpredictable flooding and erosion. Line 5 is a ticking time bomb; in order to ensure our climate and communities are protected, President Biden must put words into action and protect the Great Lakes from Enbridge's damaged, dangerous, old pipeline by revoking the Presidential permit.”

Enbridge has been illegally operating through Bad River Band’s land since 2013 after Enbridge’s easements to operate on a portion of the reservation expired and in 2017 the Band passed a resolution resolving not to renew Enbridge's easements and to remove the pipeline from the Bad River watershed. Enbridge has proposed to reroute the pipeline around the reservation, but the proposed segment remains in the Bad River watershed and in an area where the Band reserves rights to hunt, fish and gather. Any spill would still contaminate the  watershed and threatens these rights. The reroute doesn’t change the fact that Line 5 puts the region’s wildlife, wetlands, and people at risk.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit