Enbridge, a Canadian-based pipeline company that has a line between Waterloo and Marshall, will go before the Wisconsin Supreme Court to appeal a May 24 court of appeals decision. That decision effectively ruled the pipeline company did not qualify for the budget amendment that sought to bar a county from requiring pipeline companies to purchase spill cleanup insurance.
Because of their appeal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will review the issue, according to a press release from 350 Madison Climate Action Team.
The supreme court will review in the case of Enbridge v. Dane County that Enbridge is not exempted from the budget amendment that a county can require a pipeline company to purchase necessary insurance if there was an oil spill disaster.
The pumping station in the Town of Medina is on the pipeline. This is on a 454-mile pipeline, line 61, that sends Canadian tar sands from Superior to Flanagan, Illinois. Last year, this line was expanded, where there is the capacity to produce 1.2 million barrels a day. A pumping station was constructed in the Town of Medina.
In April 2015, the Dane County Zoning and Land Regulation (ZLR) required that Enbridge obtain spill cleanup insurance. The county imposed the requirement as a condition of approving Enbridge’s pump station. Three months later, Enbridge lobbied key legislators to have a provision in the 2015-2017 state budget that counties may not require a pipeline company to have insurance if a company has sudden and accidental pollution liability insurance.
In circuit court Sept. 27, 2016, it was ruled that Dane County’s insurance condition should be removed from ZLR’s conditional use permit because it was invalidated by the 2015 budget provision.
On May 24, 2018, the Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the 2016 circuit court decision. This case was sent back to the ZLR saying that potential insurance conditions are important to the permit. The Court of Appeals also stated that Enbridge had not showed that they carry the “sudden and accidental” coverage required to trigger the statute.
In June 2018, Enbridge appealed the decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and the court decided to take the case. The supreme court’s decision is surprising, according to 350 Madison. Review by that court is rarely granted and is limited to cases of major importance involving complex questions of law, according to a 350 Madison press release.
This issue is a divided between Dane County trying to protect its citizens from the costs and the effects of a spill. There is a concern because of an 843,000-gallon spill from Enbridge in 2010 in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.