Oil Pipeline Guides: Impacts to Tribal Rights and Resources and Guide for Local Governments

WI Green Fire, July 2, 2020

Wild rice
Photo: Nancy Larson

Wisconsin’s Green Fire and Midwest Environmental Advocates have developed two new guides for pipeline regulation in Wisconsin. You can download the guides by clicking below.

Impacts to Tribal Rights and Resources from Oil Pipeline Construction in Wisconsin

A Guide to Local Government Regulation of Oil Pipelines in Wisconsin.

Tribal nations and members in Wisconsin have rights and concerns distinct from non-tribal people, many rooted in treaties and federal laws. In particular, Ojibwe tribes reserved the right to hunt, fish, and gather outside their reservations in northern Wisconsin in treaties with the United States, which have been affirmed by state and federal courts beginning in the 1970s. Since tribes and members may be uniquely impacted by pipeline regulatory decisions, it is important that tribal perspectives and impacts be shared during federal, state, and local regulatory processes. Government-to-government relations between tribal and other governments are essential to effective decision making. Cultural and Traditional Ecological Knowledge held by tribal members may provide critical information, not just about tribal relationships to natural resources (or non-human relatives), but about the resources themselves and their appropriate management.

Local governments in Wisconsin have broad authority to regulate activities in their communities through zoning, licenses, and more. But that authority is limited when it comes to oil pipelines because local regulations must not conflict with federal and state laws. The fact sheet describes the types of permissible local zoning ordinances pertaining to pipelines. Conditional use permitting and road use regulation are other tools that local governments may use.


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