This Pipeline Cuts Across a Reservation. Wisconsin Might Make Tribal Members Felons for Protesting
November 19, 2019
They could face fines of $10,000 and up to six years in jail.
This piece originally appeared in Grist and appears here as part of our Climate Desk Partnership.
For more than 60 years, one section of Enbridge’s elaborate network of pipelines carrying petroleum across Canada has taken a detour through the Bad River Reservation in northern Wisconsin.
Some of the easements that allowed Enbridge to keep its Line 5 pipeline on the tribe’s land expired in 2013, and negotiations between Enbridge and the tribe to renew the leases fell through. Yet Line 5 is still funneling Enbridge’s petroleum across the Bad River Reservation. The tribe says Enbridge is trespassing, and has sued the company to kick it off their property.
If a bill awaiting Wisconsin’s Democrat Governor Tony Evers’ signature becomes law, members of the tribe protesting Enbridge’s operations on their reservation could face fines of $10,000 and up to six years in jail.
“It provides these illegally operating companies with the right to basically charge someone with a felony for being on their land,” said Philomena Kebec, a citizen of Bad River and former tribal prosecutor. “And this could be an Indian person on Indian land where the company is illegally trespassing.”