In the fight over whether Enbridge—the $42 billion Canadian pipeline company—should be allowed to triple the capacity of its tar sands pipeline through Dane County without cleanup insurance, the county has been joined by landowners living adjacent to the pipeline and 350 Madison. They contend that taxpayers have a right to be protected from future billion dollar disasters like the one Enbridge caused in Michigan in 2010.
That dispute was before Judge Peter C. Anderson in Dane County Circuit Court today, September 27, when Enbridge brought in as its new lawyer Governor Walker’s “fixer,” Atty. Eric McLeod, most well known for representing without charge Justice Gableman against ethics charges.
Judge Anderson ruled that Enbridge did not have to comply with Dane County’s insurance condition because some unknown entity secured a budget rider in the 2015 budget (Wis. Stat. § 59.70(25)) to override local zoning in limited circumstances applicable solely to Enbridge’s dispute with the county. He ruled that the insurance condition should be removed from the company’s permit. 350 Madison’s attorneys, Thomas Burney and Patricia Hammel, believe that Judge Anderson based his ruling on two incorrect facts and that Enbridge does not even qualify for the budget rider.
350 Madison’s Peter Anderson (no relation to Judge Peter Anderson) said these questions will be pursued in the days ahead: “We will try to convince the courts that dirty backroom dealings—in which Governor Walker has engaged in ‘pay to play,’ granting corporate bailouts by means of budget riders—have to stop if we are to retain the substance and not just the form of democratic government.” In the end, 350’s Anderson noted, “it took the federal courts to hold that the lead paint manufacturers could not take advantage of the corrupt $750,000 get-out-of-jail budget rider from Governor Walker, and we hope the courts will reach the corresponding conclusion regarding Enbridge.”
“By bringing Atty. McLeod into its legal fight to ensure that taxpayers are left paying the tab for its future disasters,” 350’s Anderson said, “Enbridge is sending the people of Dane County the message that it intends to turn the political screws on anyone who stands in its way.” Reflecting on the victory by First Nation tribes against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, 350’s Anderson predicted: “Those Canadian oil barons are going to find that Dane County has been inspired to give their company the same reception here.”