On June 29, the State of Michigan released for public comment a consultant’s study on alternatives to Line 5, the risky 64-year-old dual oil pipelines that cross the lakebed of the Straits of Mackinac. The state is now holding public meetings on the study.
The study is a major disappointment and contributes little of value to the discussion on the fate of the oil pipelines operating in the Great Lakes since 1953. The only viable alternative is to decommission Line 5.
Line 5 in the News
Every day, nearly 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids flow through Enbridge's "Line 5," a pair of aging pipelines just west of the Mackinac Bridge. Line 5, which starts in Superior, Wisconsin and splits into two pipes as it cuts through the Mackinac Straits on its way to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario, threatens the drinking water supply for 5 million Michigan residents and the Pure Michigan economy. Line 5 has failed 29 times since 1968, spilling at least 1.13 million gallons of oil. It is time for the state to evict Enbridge from the Mackinac Straits and shut down Line 5 because of the danger its oil pipelines pose to the Great Lakes.
- University of Michigan studies call the Mackinac Straits the "worst possible place" for a Great Lakes oil spill, which could pollute up to 720 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
- Enbridge's data reveal that sections of Line 5 in the Mackinac Straits are cracked and dented, and a segment on land near the Straits has lost 26% of its original wall thickness.
- Under the best conditions, only 30% of an oil spill would be recovered.
- 1.5 million jobs are directly tied in some way to the Great Lakes, generating more than $62 billion in wages.
Enbridge's Easement Violations
FLOW has revealed that Enbridge is operating illegally and has broken its easement agreement with the state and people of Michigan in the following ways:
- Standard of Care as a Reasonably Prudent Person (Section A)
- Indemnity Provision (Section J)
- Pipeline Wall Thickness Provision (Section A (11))
- Pipeline Exterior Slats and Coating Requirements (Section A (9))
- Pipeline Minimum Curvature Requirement (Section A (4))
- Maximum Unsupported Span Provision (Section A (10))
- Federal Violation of Emergency Oil Spill Response Plan (Section A)
- State Violation under the Michigan Environmental Protection Action (Section A)
FLOW's December 2015 expert report demonstrates that decommissioning the Line 5 oil pipeline would not disrupt Michigan's or the Midwest's crude oil and propane supply, as only 5-10% of the oil in Line 5 is used in Michigan. Available capacity to meet energy demand in the Great Lakes region already exists in the North American pipeline system. Check out our Alternatives Fact Sheet below for more information.
FLOW and our partners are working together to ensure that the State of Michigan is held accountable as public trustee of our waters to take immediate action to prevent a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes.
Printable Line 5 Fact Sheets
A Collection of Line 5 Films
Immiscible: The Fight Over Line 5 explores the growing tension between water activists and big oil companies. The film features interviews from leading organizations in the fight to decommission Enbridge Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, members of indigenous communities at risk, concerned residents, as well as Enbridge Energy’s public response to this conflict. This film was created by four Michigan State University students (Olivia Dimmer, Daniel Stephens, Austin Torres, & Annette Kim) in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Department of Media & Information.
Want to see what Line 5 looks like up close? Watch this three minute underwater tour courtesy of Dr. Ed Timm.