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U.S. Department of Justice preparing legal brief as both sides appeal Line 5 decision

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has been asked to explain how a 1977 energy treaty with Canada would impact efforts to shut down the Line 5 cross-border pipeline.

A forthcoming Department of Justice brief will mark the Biden administration’s first official foray into the dispute between Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. and an Indigenous band in Wisconsin.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals wants the brief by Feb. 8, when it will hear oral arguments from Enbridge and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. 

Both sides are appealing last year’s district court decision, which found Enbridge was trespassing on band territory and ordered Line 5 rerouted by June 2026.

Neither side was satisfied with the ruling: Bad River wants the contested 19-kilometre stretch shut down right away, while the company says it needs more time.  

The U.S. has so far been largely silent on the little-known 47-year-old treaty, which both Enbridge and Ottawa have cited as a key reason why Line 5 must keep operating. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2024. 

The Canadian Press

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