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Leech Lake Tribal Court judge to rule on civil case against Enbridge

Leech Lake Tribal Judge B.J. Jones took under advisement Friday a civil action to stop Enbridge Energy Partners from expanding its pipeline corridor on Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tribal lands.

Four Leech Lake Band members filed the suit in Leech Lake Tribal Court to stop the construction. The plaintiffs in the civil action, dated July 21, are Elizabeth Sherman, Sandra Nichols, Vikki Howard and Harry Greene. They have requested a restraining order against construction of the Enbridge "Alberta Clipper and Southern Diluent Pipelines" within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation.

Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network said Sherman presented the case in Tribal Court Friday. Attorney Randy Thompson represented Enbridge.

About 700 people have signed a petition submitted to the Leech Lake Reservation Business Committee, also known as the Tribal Council, to hold a referendum on whether the Tribal Council agreement with Enbridge should stand. The agreement is a payment by Enbridge to Leech Lake of $10 million for the pipeline easement on reservation land.

"We're still waiting to hear from the Tribal Council on the referendum," Cobenais said.

He said the only Tribal Council member to attend Friday court hearing was Representative Eugene "Ribs" Whitebird.

Cobenais said the suit against Enbridge has generated interest among a wider audience than the Leech Lake Band.

"People are talking about it - not just us anymore," he said.