The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Katherine Quaid, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)
Edward Smith, Sierra Club,

Indigenous Leaders and Environmental Groups Deliver Petitions Urging Army Corps of Engineers to Address Line 5 Pipeline Impacts

Last week, the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance and environmental groups delivered a petition with 9,000+ signatures calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a robust environmental review of the Line 5 crude oil pipeline reroute. The petition builds on growing momentum to shut down Line 5 permanently. Two weeks ago, leaders of 30 Tribal Nations in the Great Lakes region sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging the United States to take action against the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline’s trespass on the Bad River Band’s sovereign territories.

The petition delivery comes ahead of the Washington D.C. premiere of the BAD RIVER documentary film, which will be attended by Bad River Tribal leaders, community advocates, environmental groups, and Congressional and government leaders and officials. The film will be released in 15 AMC and local theaters throughout the country on March 15th, many of which will run through the weekend, with 50% of ticket sales going to the Bad River Band.

Enbridge’s Line 5, a 645 mile and 70-year-old oil pipeline, has continued to operate illegally through the Bad River Band’s land in northern Wisconsin and the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan. The existing infrastructure poses a serious threat to the Great Lakes region which holds one-fifth of the world's surface freshwater. Enbridge's proposed reroute will still impact the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s sovereign land and watersheds. Despite the Bad River Band’s request that Enbridge immediately shutdown the existing illegal pipeline, the company is moving forward seeking permits for the reroute.

During the petition delivery, the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance brought attention to the cultural and environmental impacts of the Line 5 pipeline, the need for a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Line 5 reroute, and the urgent calls to shutdown and decommission the pipeline permanently. Ahead of the delivery, members of the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance and allies met with the Army Corps and Congressional leaders. See a livestream of the delivery and rally here.

While the unprecedented Great Lakes Tunnel Project in the Straits of Mackinac aims to replace only a small segment of the overall degrading pipeline, four tribes, environmental groups, and numerous Great Lakes advocates continue to object to the high-risk project that would encase the pipeline in concrete beneath the Lake. This unusual pipeline mechanism introduces an entirely new and extremely dangerous set of explosion risks to the Lakes and surrounding communities.

The petition delivery and rally was led by the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance (IWTA) with support from the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) and Sierra Club. Please see quotes below from leaders of the IWTA, which is facilitated by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network:

Rene Ann Goodrich, Bad River Ojibwe, Native Lives Matter Coalition and Wisconsin Department of Justice MMIW Task Force Member: “Line 5 crosses over tribal treaty territory and one of those ceded territories is my own reservation of Bad River. The dangers that Line 5 brings to the water and environment is a huge and immediate concern. As a Bad River tribal member our way of life, historical homelands, cultural resources, subsistence, wild rice, medicines, fisheries, and water are in direct jeopardy of an imminent catastrophic oil spill. We call for the Line 5 shutdown and decommissioning, not simply re-routed, whereas it would still put the entire Great Lakes ecosystem at great risk and cause irreparable destruction. As sacred water carriers, we stand with the water and are calling for the Army Corps to conduct a proper EIS on Line 5 which will demonstrate that this pipeline is not ecologically feasible and should be immediately decommissioned, and for the Army Corps to reject permits for a re-route of Line 5.”

Aurora Conley, Bad River Ojibwe, Anishinaabe Environmental Protection Alliance: “As a Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe member, I join the calls from tribal leaders to immediately shutdown the existing Line 5 pipeline and conduct a proper EIS on the new Line 5 proposal. Our territories and water are in imminent danger, and we do not want to see irreversible damage to our land, water, and wild rice. We do not want our lifeways destroyed. The Ojibwe people are here in Bad River because of the manoomin, the wild rice. A rupture from this oil spill will irreversibly harm the Great Lakes and wild rice beds. That is unacceptable. That is something we will not stand for. I will continue this call to action until Line 5 is decommissioned and removed from our lands. We object to any reroute. Line 5 should not exist here.”

Gaagigeyaashiik - Dawn Goodwin, Gaawaabaabiganigaag, White Earth-Ojibwe, Co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition, Representative of Indigenous Environmental Network: “As a member of the Wolf Clan I have an inherent responsibility to protect the environment and the people. I have seen first hand what happens when the government fails to protect the water as they so unfortunately did with Line 3. Now Enbridge is looking to push through a new re-route for the Line 5 pipeline, and it must be stopped. The Army Corps has an opportunity here and now to protect the Great Lakes before irreparable damage occurs. It is time to honor and respect the treaties as the supreme law of the land, and to listen to Tribes and Indigenous leaders calling for a comprehensive EIS and for the Army Corps to reject permits for a re-route of Line 5.”

Nookomis Debra Topping, Nagajiiwanong, 1854 Treaty Fond du Lac, Co-founder of R.I.S.E. Coalition: “Nibi (water) is sacred. Manoomin is sacred. The wild rice is the reason why my people, the Anishinaabe, are located in the regions we currently reside in. I am inherently a caretaker of these lands and resources. I have said No to line 3 and now to line 5, and will forever say No to the rape of our Mother Earth. No means No. “No” is a full sentence. This work is exhausting and, yet, we don't give up on this. I have my community and grandchildren to answer to. Who do you answer to? Does your family mean enough to you to protect our mother earth and her resources? Or is dirty money, power and oil your priority?”

Alexus Koski, Bad River Ojibwe Youth Leader, Water Protector, Stop Line 5 Advocate:

“As a Bad River Youth Leader, I fear the continued and imminent threats to our sacred water. As a young person, unable to yet vote, it is sometimes difficult to remain hopeful about our future but it is far too important and far too dangerous to remain silent, to allow this pipeline to continue operating another day— my future is at stake, my culture is at stake, our climate is at stake. Please join us to stand in solidarity with Bad River and all other tribes calling for the immediate removal of this pipeline from our lands, to finally shut down line 5 once for all. We do not want a reroute. We want to protect the water. We owe that much to young people and to future generations. Shut down Line 5! Water is Life!”

Since 2022, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) has been honored to facilitate the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance. In response to the petition delivery and rally, Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) stated: “Not only are we in an escalating climate crisis, we are also facing a water crisis. We cannot risk poisoning the Great Lakes, which hold one-fifth of the world’s surface freshwater. To be climate leaders, it is necessary to listen to Indigenous leadership, protect biodiversity, and end the expansion of fossil fuels. Shutting down Line 5 means being a climate leader. The Army Corps must conduct the most thorough environmental review possible of the proposed reroute, and through this effort, we are calling for Line 5 permits to be rejected and the entire pipeline permanently shut down."

Elizabeth Ward, Sierra Club - Wisconsin Chapter Director: “We’re here today in support of Indigenous sovereignty and to elevate the demands of the Bad River Band and dozens of tribal nations with President Biden – end the trespass of the existing Line 5 pipeline on sovereign land and deny the permits for the proposed reroute upon completion of a full environmental impact statement”

The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is a solutions-based organization established to engage women worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, direct action, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.