Time is running out to protect the land, waterways, and people of Wisconsin. While many of us reflected on the interconnection between planetary and human health a few days ago on World Health Day, Big Oil was getting one day closer to destroying our environment right here in Wisconsin.

Enbridge, a company notorious for massive oil spills and subsequent environmental catastrophe, is proposing to relocate and construct a new fossil fuel pipeline — Line 5 — in the northern part of our state. Now is the time to take action and tell the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources you oppose this project because it is a threat to both environmental and human health.

Climate change is real and is happening right now. According to the Carbon Majors Report, approximately 100 fossil fuel companies contribute to over 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. While energy is essential in today’s society, fossil fuels are an antiquated means of energy when renewable alternatives like solar and wind power exist. The last thing we need to do is invest in more fossil fuel infrastructure — Line 5 relocation — which will only add to our overreliance on nonrenewable energy sources and contribute to the existential warming of our planet for years to come.

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Let’s not forget we rely on the environment for the food and water to survive. The Line 5 project will destroy 41 miles of natural Wisconsin land in Ashland, Bayfield and Iron counties. When the fossil fuel pipeline inevitably leaks, the watersheds of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior will become polluted with innumerable toxins. The communities who rely on these bodies of water for fresh drinking water will ultimately be harmed. Since these communities include the already marginalized people of the Bad River Tribe, the Line 5 project will bring even more environmental injustice to the state of Wisconsin.

The Line 5 relocation project is also detrimental to human health. More fossil fuel infrastructure means more burning of fossil fuels. This leads to poor air quality, which can cause asthma and allergy exacerbations, cardiovascular disease and even death. There is also the risk of extreme heat, which can lead to severe dehydration and heat stroke. Not to mention, climate change and pollution have harmful effects on mental health.

While some people say the Line 5 relocation project will bring jobs to Wisconsin, I argue we do not need any more dirty jobs. According to a report from Rewiring America, investing in renewable energy infrastructure would create millions of jobs without destroying our environment. We cannot line the pockets of Enbridge while sacrificing the natural resources that provide us sustenance.

The time is now to alert the Wisconsin DNR that you oppose the Line 5 relocation project. There is too much at stake including climate stability, Wisconsin lands and waterways, environmental justice, and public health. Express your opposition today, before the April 15 deadline, by emailing DNROEEAComments@wi.gov or mailing a letter to “Line 5 EIS Comments, DNR (EA/7),” 101 South Webster St, Madison, WI 53707.

Alyssa Valentyne ([email protected]) is a fourth-year student at the UW School of Medicine & Public Health.