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Enbridge Pipeline Projects in Wisconsin

Enbridge, Inc. and Enbridge Energy Partners (collectively referred to as "Enbridge"), own and operate a liquid petroleum pipeline system that spans approximately 3,200 miles across North America and has been in operation since 1950's. Detailed information on company ownership and structure is included on the company's websites at Enbridge Inc or Enbridge.

The DNR is in the process of preparing a draft environmental impact statement for the Line 5 relocation project. Information on this process, including a recording of a public hearing held on July 1, 2020 and the more than 2,100 written comments received, can be found below, under Environmental Impact Statement.

The US Department of Transportation regulates pipeline safety, construction, inspection, capacity expansion, and maintenance for all liquid petroleum pipelines through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PHMSA is responsible for protecting the public and the environment by ensuring the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials (e.g., crude oil) to consumers by pipeline. PHMSA sets regulations that address safety in the design, construction, testing, operation, maintenance, and emergency response preparedness for crude oil pipelines and related facilities.

Pipeline construction projects often involve federal permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for impacts to waters of the United States, which are separate from the Department of Natural Resources process.

No agency in Wisconsin has authority to determine need for and/or siting of petroleum pipelines.

The Department of Natural Resources regulatory authorities are triggered if construction is proposed through wetlands, across waterways, and for erosion control. Certain construction projects may also trigger air permits. Coordination with the USACE occurs on wetland/waterway permitting. The Department of Natural Resources does not have authority to regulate the amount of material flowing in any pipeline.

Line 5 Relocation Project

Proposed Relocation Route & Alternatives
View larger map.

Proposed Line 5 Relocation Project

The existing Line 5 pipeline runs from Superior to the upper peninsula of Michigan through the Straits of Mackinac and lower peninsula of Michigan to Canada. Line 5 crosses through approximately 12 miles of the Bad River Reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Enbridge is proposing a reroute of Line 5 around the Bad River Reservation.

Additional information regarding the segment of Line 5 within the Bad River Reservation, including a lawsuit filed by the Bad River Band, can be found in this brochure created by the Mashkiiziibii Natural Resources Department.

Enbridge is proposing to relocate a 41-mile-long portion of its existing Line 5 pipeline with new 30-inch diameter pipe within Ashland, Bayfield, and Iron County, WI. Enbridge must receive all necessary local, state, and federal permits and/or approvals before construction of the Line 5 relocation project can begin.

Enbridge generally proposes to use a 120-foot wide construction right-of-way (ROW) for the new pipeline, which would allow for temporary storage of topsoil and subsoil, and accommodate safe operation of construction equipment. The construction corridor would include a 50-foot wide permanent ROW plus temporary workspaces needed to complete construction.


The following permits, approvals, and/or reviews are anticipated to be required for the proposed Line 5 Relocation Project:

  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR):
    • Wetland fill permit under Ch. 281.36 (Wis. Stats.) and Waterway impact and crossing permit(s) under Ch. 30 (Wis. Stats.) – A wetland fill and waterway impact/crossing permit application was filed with the DNR on 2/11/2020. The application can be found in the DNR's ePermitting System (docket # WP-IP-NO-2020-2-X02-11T12-18-51).
    • WPDES construction site storm water permit – A Construction Site Storm water permit application was filed with the DNR on 9/23/2020. The application can be found in the DNR’s ePermitting System (docket # SW-GP-NO-2020-2-X09-23T11-31-30).
    • Hydrostatic test discharge permit – Enbridge is consulting with DNR staff. A permit application has not been filed.
    • State Endangered Resources review and potential Incidental Take permit – Enbridge is consulting with DNR staff and has submitted an Endangered Resources Review.
    • Cultural resources consultation
  • Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC):
    • Enbridge filed an application with the PSC on 2/7/2020 requesting a determination pursuant to Ch. 32.02(13) (Wis. Stats.) that the proposed real estate interest acquisitions associated with the relocation of Line 5 are in the public interest. Enbridge withdrew this application on 8/7/2020.
  • Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS), State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO):
    • Cultural resources consultation, National Historic Preservation Act
  • Wisconsin Department of Agricultural, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP):
    • Agricultural protection plan
  • Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT):
    • Road crossing permits
  • Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA):
    • Coastal Zone Management Federal Consistency Review
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District:
    • Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for waters of the U.S. and wetlands
    • Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act consultation
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
    • Section 7 Endangered Species Act consultation
  • Tribal Coordination, including Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO)

  • Reviews, permits, and/or approvals from the applicable local authorities.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

The DNR is preparing an EIS to inform decision-makers and the public about the environmental and socioeconomic effects of the proposed Line 5 relocation and alternatives. The EIS will cover direct local effects, as well as broader impacts at regional, statewide, and larger scales.

The EIS process is outlined in Chapter NR 150, Wis. Adm. Code. This process follows the general steps listed below. Alerts will be posted to this webpage any time there is a public hearing or comment period.

  1. Public Scoping:
  2. Information Gathering, Analysis, and Preparation of a Draft EIS:
    • In August 2020 the DNR contracted with TRC Environmental Corporation to prepare a Draft EIS.
    • The scope of the EIS analysis was determined based on comments received during Public Scoping and in consultation with tribal governments and federal agencies.
    • Subject area experts at TRC and the DNR are gathering information, conducting analyses, and drafting/reviewing portions of the Draft EIS.  <we are here
  3. Draft EIS:
    • The DNR will post the Draft EIS on this webpage.
    • The DNR will hold a public hearing and comment period on the Draft EIS.
    • The DNR will consider all comments received on the Draft EIS.
  4. Final EIS:
    • The DNR will post the Final EIS on this webpage, along with all comments received and a Comment Response document.
    • The Comment Response document will summarize comments received along with the DNR's responses, including any revisions made to the Final EIS.
    • The DNR will issue a determination of compliance with the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (Ch. 1.11, Wis. Stats).
    • No DNR permit decisions will be issued until after the Final EIS has been published.

Previous Enbridge Project Proposals in Wisconsin

Line 3 Replacement Project

Enbridge owns and operates the 324-mile-long Line 3, originally installed in 1968 between Alberta, Canada and Superior, WI. Enbridge conducted internal inspections of Line 3 as part of its ongoing system-wide pipeline integrity program and proposed a replacement of Line 3 in Wisconsin (referred to as Segment 18).

In Wisconsin, the Line 3 Replacement project consisted of replacing approximately 14 miles of the existing 34-inch-diameter pipeline with new 36-inch-diameter pipe. In Wisconsin, the Line 3 pipeline replacement is adjacent to the existing Enbridge right-of-way from the Minnesota state border to the Superior Terminal in Douglas County.

The DNR published an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Line 3 Replacement Project. The final EIS is available at these links:

Enbridge received their necessary local, state, and federal permits and approvals for the Line 3 Replacement project in Wisconsin. Construction of the Line 3 Replacement Project concluded in 2018.

Sandpiper Pipeline Project

In 2014, Enbridge applies for permits from the DNR for the Sandpiper Pipeline Project. In Wisconsin, the proposal consisted of 14 miles of new 30-inch diameter pipeline. The full project would have been approximately 616 miles long, running from North Dakota, through Minnesota to Superior, WI.

The DNR published an EIS, joint with the Line 3 Replacement Project. In a December 19, 2016 letter to the DNR, Enbridge withdrew their permit applications for the Wisconsin portion of the proposed Sandpiper Pipeline project.