Environmentalists contend the state Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing on Enbridge Inc.'s plans to reroute a northern Wisconsin pipeline prematurely.

Line 5 runs from Superior to Ontario, crossing about 12 miles of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's reservation in Ashland County. The tribe sued the company in 2019 to force it to remove the section of line on the reservation. Enbridge is trying to obtain permits to reroute the line south of the reservation.

The DNR held a hearing on the project July 1. Environmental groups, including Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin, sent the agency a letter Saturday arguing that the pipeline's route isn't finalized and the permit application isn't complete.

The groups said the DNR should hold another hearing and comment period when the application is complete and an environmental impact statement is finished.

Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner said the department deemed the application complete, and the route has been finalized, although more site-specific plans are coming. The DNR will hold a public comment period when the draft environmental impact statement is finished, she added.

DNR spokeswoman Sarah Hoye said the agency is following the permit process, and a field survey of the entire route is complete. She said a determination that an application is complete doesn't mean all the information on it is accurate or satisfies permit requirements.

The DNR website indicates the department will hold a 30-day comment period after the draft environmental impact statement is complete.