The Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians in northern Wisconsin voted not to renew an easement for a major oil and gas pipeline that passes through its reservation. In the wake of the successful protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, this decision is the latest example of Native American tribes using sovereignty rights to oppose fossil fuel projects.
The Bad River tribal council voted unanimously in early January to revoke rights-of-way that pass through the roughly 200-square-mile reservation and the decision could prove difficult to overturn. Pipeline companies often take ownership of private land through the use of eminent domain. But using Native American land typically requires tribal consent and easements are negotiated for a fixed period.
The pipeline in question, Line 5, spans 645 miles and is owned by Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge. It is used to ship as much as 540,000 barrels of fossil fuels, including crude oil and propane, per day from Superior, Wisc. to Sarnia, Ontario and is part of Canada’s largest export oil pipeline network. The resolution passed by the tribe calls for the decommissioning and removal of the pipeline from all Bad River lands and its watershed, which flows into Lake Superior.