Wausau Pilot & Review

A group of local citizens, elected officials, labor leaders and tribal members gathered at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 434, a United Association Local union, office in Mosinee on Wednesday to show their support for the $450 million proposed Line 5 relocation project in Ashland, Bayfield and Iron Counties.

The controversial relocation project, which is estimated to create more than 700 Wisconsin construction jobs, is currently being reviewed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Supporters at Wednesday’s event heard from local government, business, labor and tribal leaders on the economic need for the relocation project and the overall safety of pipelines.

State Representative Patrick Snyder (R-Schofield) called the project a “win for our state.”

“The Line 5 relocation project will ensure our region continues to have the gas and diesel supply it needs to drive our vehicles and transport our goods,” he said.

For years, some local residents and water protectors have opposed Line 5, Enbridge’s tar sands oil pipeline stretching from Sarnia, Ontario to Superior, Wisconsin and running through the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan. Critics say an oil spill would threaten the Great Lakes and dozens of waterways.

But Nyree Kedrowski, Ho-Chuck tribal member and co-founder of Native-owned Five Skies Training and Consulting, said Enbridge has been “transparent and willing to work with Native communities through this entire process, including their promise that over 10% of the total project cost will be spent with Native owned businesses and on training and hiring tribal members.”

Enbridge has been under fire from tribal and environmental groups in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin that argue the company’s pipelines are unsafe and support expanding the use of fossil fuels, all at a time when the world should be reducing its carbon footprint.

In December, the DNR released a draft environmental review of the company’s plan. Then, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the state’s review failed to fully analyze the ways in which the project could harm the environment, as well as tribal resources and treaty rights. The EPA now wants the DNR to show that Enbridge’s plans won’t have a negative impact on state and tribal water quality, WPR’s Danielle Keading reports.

But Scott Suder, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council, said Wisconsin businesses and manufacturers depend on reliable and affordable energy to create jobs and produce the goods and services our state needs to grow and thrive.

“The continued operation of Line 5 is the safest way to continue to move the energy our entire region needs,” Suder said.

The stop in Mosinee is part of a two-day, three-city swing this week for the Safest Way Tour. Other stops this week include Eau Claire and Hayward. Last month the inaugural tour stops included Superior, Mellen, Hurley, Rhinelander and Madison.