MADISON, Wis. — Almost half of the respondents to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress' spring hearings questionnaire say they would support the organization if it opposes reconstructing Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 pipeline across northern Wisconsin.
The company decided to reroute the pipeline after the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued to force removal of the line from its reservation. The company is seeking permits from the Department of Natural Resources and state utility regulators to reroute the line.
The Conservation Congress is a group of influential outdoor enthusiasts that advises the DNR on policy.
The congress' spring hearing questionnaire earlier this month said the line is aging and should be decommissioned. The questionnaire asked respondents if they would support the congress should it oppose construction to replace the portion of line that runs across the reservation. Respondents could file their answers online from April 12 through April 15.
Nearly half of Wisconsin residents who responded during the three-day virtual response period — about 48% — said they would support the congress' opposition. A little more than a third — about 38% — said they would not support a stance opposing the reconstruction and 16% were undecided.
About 49% of all respondents, including those from outside Wisconsin, said they would support congress opposition. Thirty-four percent said they would not support opposition and about 17% were undecided. Only 165 respondents were from outside the state.
The breakdown was the same to a question asking if respondents would support congress opposition to DNR permits for the reconstruction, with about 47% saying they would support opposition and about 34% saying they wouldn't with about 18% undecided. The percentages were the same for both Wisconsin residents and all respondents.
Enbridge media officials didn't immediately respond to a message.
Line 5 runs from Superior to Sarnia, Ontario, crossing about 12 miles of the tribe's reservation. Enbridge plans to completely remove the pipeline from tribal lands. The company estimates the costs will likely top $100 million.
The proposed new route loops south of the reservation, spanning roughly 40 miles across Ashland and Iron counties and crossing the Bad River upstream from the reservation near Mellen. The company said it believes the route "best balances the impacts to protected environments and the impacted communities."
The DNR is currently preparing an environmental impact statement for the project.
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