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Group Organizes Game In Opposition To Line 5

People Gather At Line 5 Site To Protest Permit Renewal To Maintain Line

Elizabeth McMahon/WPR

People have been protesting the replacement of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 pipeline, which carries up to 390,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada, to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior.

But, on Saturday, a group of people will hold a lacrosse game at a site where Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline runs through Bayfield County. That pipeline carries up to 540,000 barrels of oil and natural gas from Superior to Sarnia, Canada.

Ashland resident Frank Koehn, one of the event’s organizers, said Enbridge is seeking a renewal of a special use permit to maintain Line 5 on a roughly 12-mile stretch running through national forestland. But, Koehn said the permit expired several years ago.

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“And now they want to use the same old rules and replace it. We’re saying no. The Forest Service needs to step in and say, ‘You need to do a new EIS (environmental impact statement),’” said Koehn. “Technologies have changed. Equipment has changed. The world has changed in the last 50 years.”

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service and Enbridge said at an informational meeting in Ashland last month that the company submitted all the necessary paperwork to renew the permit before it expired, but a backlog prevented the federal agency from reviewing it sooner.

Koehn said they’re inviting people to view the site for themselves.

“Having people to come out and pick some berries,” he said. “We’re going to talk about lacrosse, and, if enough people show up, we’ll do some lacrosse demonstrations.”

Red Cliff member Sandy Gokee said she’s a mother and water protector. Gokee said lacrosse was given to Anishinaabe people to help heal the body and spirit.

“And resolve conflicts,” she said. “So, I figure what better way to heal our Mother Earth and resolve this conflict between us Anishanaabe and Enbridge then to play our game.”

Gokee said the pipeline crosses through territory where tribes practice treaty rights to hunt and gather.

“This is our land. We have rights,” she said. “They’re putting my kids’ water, my kids’ deer meat and their grandkids – they’re putting all of that at risk.”

A spokeswoman with Enbridge released a statement about the event on Saturday, saying it’s the company’s role to deliver energy that everyone uses in their daily lives.

“We recognize there are different points of view on the energy we all use and support a respectful and constructive dialogue on the issues of climate change and responsible resource development – issues that affect all Americans. We all need to come together to find workable solutions on the issues that affects all of us,” the statement reads. “Our preference is always to seek to resolve differences of opinion through dialogue – peacefully and respectfully. Our hope is that all protest activity remains lawful and peaceful, and that we are given opportunities to engage in meaningful discussion to resolve our differences.”

Koehn said he doesn’t foresee any unlawful activity at the site. The event will be held at Forest Road 237 in Bayfield County beginning with a ceremony and potluck at noon on Saturday.