Enbridge’s Line 61 is a part of a four-pipeline corridor that runs through the heart of Wisconsin. Line 61 is a 42-inch- pipeline operating at over 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. This giant pipeline has carried a mixture of oil, including toxic tar sands oil since it began operation in 2009. Originally carrying 400,000 barrels per day, Line 61 has been placed under ever-increasing pressure so that it will soon carry triple that amount.
In 2013, Enbridge announced plans to expand Line 61. By placing pump stations all along the line, Enbridge is in the process of tripling the capacity by 2017 to 1.2 million barrels per day. Enbridge’s pipelines stretch all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and the company was the first oil shipper to apply publicly for a permit to export oil to the international market.
Line 61 crosses through Wisconsin from Superior to Flanagan, IL, putting a number of our water bodies at risk, from the Wisconsin River to the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong, to the Flambeau River, to the St. Croix River and Lake Superior. A spill could devastate these waterways, the jobs and the economies that depend on them.
Fighting for Local Control
Due to the risks associated with tripling the pressure and volume on Line 61, the citizens of Dane County pushed their zoning committee to require Enbridge to purchase additional insurance. After working with the Zoning Committee for a year, a condition requiring environmental cleanup insurance was indeed passed. Unfortunately, an unsigned bill was then circulated through the State Joint Finance Committee, prohibited counties from requiring additional insurance on pipelines. Enbridge later claimed they had nothing to do with unsigned legislation, yet it couldn’t possibly have benefited anyone else.