Emails reveal that an attorney and lobbyist for Canadian pipeline company giant Enbridge helped draft the controversial provision placed into the 2015 Wisconsin Budget set to fast-track expansion of the company's Line 61 pipeline.
The emails, published by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau and first covered by Wisconsin Public Radio, emerge just months after DeSmog revealed emails showing Enbridge's attorney for its border-crossing Alberta Clipper expansion project proposal, which connects to Line 61 in Superior, Wisconsin, doing much the same to curry favor with the U.S. Department of State to fast-track permitting for that project.
Together, Alberta Clipper (also called Line 67) and Line 61 are two parts of the four that make up the broader “Keystone XL Clone” pipeline system. That system carries tar sands bitumen extracted in Alberta down to Gulf coast refineries and the global export market.
The emails, part of the Reference Bureau's drafting files it produces for every piece of proposed legislation in the Wisconsin Legislature, show that lobbyist Bill McCoshen and attorney Thomas Pyper worked behind the scenes to get the provision inserted at the 11th hour just days before the Budget passed.
Image Credit: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau
Insurance Appeal: Game Over
Due to the provision, Enbridge no longer has to pay insurance in case of a spill in Dane County, Wisconsin, a mandate it had appealed. The Dane County Board of Supervisors had scheduled a July 16 hearing for that appeal, drafted by Pyper for Enbridge, but called off the appeal hearing in the aftermath of the State Legislature signing the Budget.
“Enbridge filed an appeal properly, and we were set to hear that appeal and make a decision. That’s how it’s supposed to work,” Sharon Corrigan, Chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, said in a press release.
“But apparently Enbridge sent some lobbyists to make a different kind of appeal to the legislature and the governor, and got some special treatment slipped into the budget. We’re trying to protect Dane County’s environment. The Republican legislature and governor are protecting corporate interests. They’ve tied our hands.”
The fight over Line 61, which garnered national press coverage from The New York Times, now appears a fait accompli in the Dairy State. Activists with Madison's 350.org chapter, however, have pledged to fight the pipeline until the bitter end.
“The County Board has taken the Enbridge appeal off the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting and issued a press release stating that this 11th-hour Enbridge-friendly provision prohibits it from enforcing its precedent-setting insurance requirement,” 350 Madison's Peter Anderson said in a press release. “We disagree. We think the County Board needs to stand up to Enbridge.”