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Government of Canada Statement on the 1977 Canada-U.S. Transit Pipelines Treaty as it relates to Line 5 on the Bad River Band Reservation in Wisconsin

May 16, 2023

Canada is extremely concerned by the efforts of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin to immediately and permanently shut down the segment of Line 5 that crosses the Band’s Reservation.

Shutting down Line 5 will create significant economic disruption across the U.S. Mid-west, and in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. Line 5 supplies six refineries in Ontario and Quebec, including the refinery and petrochemical complex in Sarnia. In the U.S., Line 5 supplies four refineries in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania; and, a 2021 third-party study indicated a shutdown would threaten more than 33,000 U.S. jobs and jeopardize US$20 billion in economic activity.

The energy security of both Canada and the United States would be directly impacted by a Line 5 closure. At a time of heightened concern over energy security and supply, including during the energy transition, maintaining and protecting existing infrastructure should be a top priority. Canada has raised these concerns with the U.S. on numerous occasions.

Canada’s legal rights under the 1977 Canada-United States Transit Pipelines Treaty will be directly impacted by a Line 5 closure. Canada is engaged in ongoing formal diplomatic negotiations on Line 5 pursuant to dispute settlement provisions in Article IX(1) of the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty. The most recent session took place in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2023. Canada invoked the Treaty’s dispute settlement provisions because actions to close Line 5 represent a violation of Canada’s rights under the Treaty to an uninterrupted flow of hydrocarbons in transit.

Canada understands that the Bad River Band has sought an emergency injunction in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin to shutdown Line 5, citing riverbank erosion near the pipeline. Canada supports appropriate, science-based efforts to ensure the safety of the pipeline and believes that the appropriate U.S. regulatory authorities should conduct an independent and objective assessment of local conditions and safety measures that can be implemented before any shutdown is considered. If a shutdown were ordered because of this specific, temporary flood situation, Canada expects the United States to comply with its obligations under the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty, including the expeditious restoration of normal pipeline operations.

Canada respects the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples, including the Bad River Band’s governance of their Reservation. Canada strongly supports the infrastructure solution that is currently undergoing state and federal permitting review, which would reroute Line 5 outside the Bad River Band Reservation. Once built, this would enable the eventual closure of the segment of Line 5 currently located inside the Bad River Band Reservation. This infrastructure solution will keep Line 5 operating, further enhance environmental protections, meet critical energy needs in both Canada and the U.S., and fulfill the Bad River Band’s desire to remove the pipeline segment from its Reservation.

Embassy of Canada to the United States, Washington, D.C.

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