Tag: great lakes

The Intrinsic Value of Water and the Public Trust Doctrine

March 22, 2017


World Water Day

Let us ask ourselves today, on World Water Day – led by the United Nations, Watershed Movement, and the Vatican, with the assistance of organizations like Circle of Blue and the World Economic Forum, and many others – just what is the value of water and life? How will we face the world water crisis worsened by greenhouse gases and climate changes?

Everywhere we look, the need for water to survive competes with other uses, and is made more desperate by climate change, droughts, flooding, and rising sea levels. The water crisis is destabilizing countries and communities, leading to insecurity and even war, as we’ve seen unfold in Syria and neighboring countries in the Middle East. Here in Michigan, a similar picture has emerged, as thousands of impoverished Detroit residents struggle to survive in the face of water shutoffs.

In the face of this, there is a cry for the recognition of the human right to water. The United Nations, through two resolutions, has recognized the human right to water and sanitation, yet countries routinely ignore it. Large private interests push for ways to control water, diminishing or opposing the human right to water in favor of serving their own needs and profit motives. And the health of millions of people continues to be threatened.

Value of Water

So the question becomes, just what is the value of water? What are our shared rights, and what of our responsibility to see that climate does not overwhelm the earth, leaving it unfit as a home for our children and other species? What private uses could possibly subordinate the paramount fundamental value of water and life, family, children, health and the common good for people now and for future generations?

The value of water is intrinsic, it is valuable in and of itself, a gift. It is common to all, yet necessary for each person, plant, and animal. Water falls and percolates and flows over the earth, forms springs, wetlands, creeks, streams, lakes, and oceans, and all along the way, of necessity, water flows in common to all life along either side of the watercourse. Water flows and defines watersheds, and watersheds define the ever-present nature of the water cycle. Water falls into the watershed and collects, evaporates, transpires, or flows out of the watershed. Every watershed is a unique building block of life on earth. If the integrity of water and watersheds is protected from harm, from one generation to the next, if it is assured above all rights, needs, and competing use as a commons for all, for the common good, then there is a basis for life to sustain itself now and into the future.

How do we protect the intrinsic value of water as commons for the common good and for each person, plant, animal, and community in a watershed?

Public Trust Doctrine

The answer lies in an ancient principle, drawn from Western civilization, but recognized through custom, culture, and heritage throughout the world, known as the “public trust doctrine.” In modern times, this doctrine was uncovered and elevated by the late Professor Joseph Sax in his seminal 1970 article in the Michigan Law Review. Professor Sax recognized that there is a set of legal principles surrounding water – whether lake, stream, or ocean – that protect its primary uses: navigation, boating, fishing, swimming, drinking, and sanitation. He envisioned a widely applicable tool to manage and address the foreseen and unforeseen threats and demands for water in the world’s future.

The public trust doctrine embodies four basic principles:

  1. Navigable waters cannot be controlled by private interests for primarily private purposes; these waters must be maintained for public purposes.
  2. These public trust waters cannot be materially impaired or diminished from one generation to the next.
  3. Governments where the water flows have a solemn and perpetual duty to protect the integrity of the quantity and quality of water from exclusive or dominant private control and impairment.
  4. Citizens, the people who live in a state or watershed, have a right and duty as beneficiaries to see that these principles are respected and honored.

If we as people, collectively and individually in our watersheds and communities, adhere to these principles, we will respect, honor, and protect the intrinsic value of water. In doing so, we assure water will be available and sustainable for everyone, including the least of us. If we do this for each watershed and the hydrosphere, we will assure that water is protected for the common good and each person of this and future generations. If we do this for the common good, the various competing uses and needs will be subordinate to the overarching public trust, and accommodated within the larger framework.

Public Trust and the Great Lakes

For example, the International Joint Commission, an international body charged by a treaty signed by Canada and the United States to protect the quality and flows and levels of the waters forming the boundaries, or flowing in and out of the two countries, released a report in 2016 on the protection of the Great Lakes in North America. These lakes, together with the St. Lawrence River basin, contain more than 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water. The IJC recommended that to face the systemic threats to the Great Lakes in the coming decades – climate change, water levels, algal blooms creating massive “dead zones,” privatization and export, invasive species, waste from water mining, virtual water loss associated with other land uses such as farming that export products to other countries – that the two countries, eight states, and two provinces implement public trust principles as a “backstop” to other efforts, voluntary and regulatory. Why? Because, to assure protection and balancing of all needs and uses, there must be a common set of all-encompassing principles that catch the wild pitches, the errors, the miscalculations; in short, principles that like a lighthouse beacon keep societies, communities, businesses, and people from going off course or smashing on reefs.

Take, for instance, the Lake Erie “dead zones” caused by inadequately treated waste and a combination of climate change rainfall events and heavy phosphorous runoff from farms. In 2011, the western one-third of this lower Great Lake turned into an green toxic soup of algae, killing fish, impairing fishing and swimming, and harming tourist and water-dependent businesses. In 2014, algal blooms mushroomed again, this time closing down the drinking water system for 400,000 people in greater Toledo, Ohio. By honoring the public trust rights and responsibilities defined by public trust principles, theses systemic threats and their causal connections – phosphorous discharges and climate change – can be seen as a fundamental violation of the common good of water. By first protecting water as a commons through these public trust principles, everyone is equally required to adjust behavior to conform to the paramount obligation to protect the intrinsic value of water.

For this World Water Day, let us protect water and the human right to water as a commons and public trust. Let us move from competing public and private uses to well recognized rights, under an overarching framework of respect and responsibility. A public trust framework could provide the bridge between the intrinsic, real value of water, and the needs and uses for water on which all life depends.

The intrinsic value of all water, like life, is a gift from God, and compels us to protect water for the common good, now and for future generations. If we do this, we will make wise decisions about water, food, energy, economy, community, and peace and security. Let us start with recognizing and respecting the intrinsic value of water.

Jim Olson
President and Founder
FLOW (For Love of Water)

FLOW on site at LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics in Grand Rapids

FLOW  has received a grant from LUSH to fund their work safeguarding the Great Lakes for current and future generations.

 The team from FLOW will be on site at the LUSH store in at the Woodland Mall (3195 28th St. SW, Grand Rapids) on Saturday February 25th from 12:00 noon–4:00 p.m. Customers that come by during that time will have the opportunity to learn about the health of the Great Lakes, including some of the most timely issues, such as Line 5.

This is a unique opportunity to learn from the experts at FLOW about threats to the Great Lakes and what citizens can do to make a difference. Charity Pots featuring the FLOW design will also be available for sale in store.

 

PR: Congressman Dan Kildee Introduces Legislation to Protect the Great Lakes, Michigan’s Sport Fishing Industry

Great Lakes advocates say that commercial net-pen fish farming, pictured above, does not belong in Michigan’s public waters.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Contact: Mitchell Rivard, 989-450-2534, Mitchell.Rivard@mail.house.gov

 

Congressman Dan Kildee Introduces Legislation to Protect the Great Lakes, Michigan’s Sport Fishing Industry

Kildee Seeks to Address For-Profit Fish Farming that Poses New Threats to Michigan’s Waterways, including the Au Sable River

 

FENTON – Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), flanked by sports fishermen and conservationists at Red Fox Outfitters in Fenton, today announced that he has introduced new legislation in Congress to ban harmful aquaculture practices in both the Great Lakes and federally designated “Wild and Scenic Rivers,” which includes the Au Sable River. The new bills are part of Congressman Kildee’s continued efforts to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan’s rivers from pollution, disease and invasive species.

Aquaculture is the commercial raising of fish in ponds, rivers or lakes. If not done correctly, it has been shown to increase pollution, destroy sensitive fish habitats, spread disease and introduce non-native species. Sadly, other states have seen polluted waterways that have crippled local economies as a result of bad aquaculture practices. A commercial fish farm facility in Pennsylvania on Big Spring Creek – once a famous trout stream – collapsed the region’s fishing industry in the 1970s.

“Like many Michiganders, I have fond memories spending time up north on the lakes or fishing in the river with my family. For everyone in our state, our water is precious, and that’s why we have to always protect it from harm. Whether it is invasive species like Asian Carp, Canada’s plan to store nuclear waste on the shore of the Great Lakes or commercial fish farming, I will always fight to protect Michigan’s freshwater and the vital jobs that depend on it,” said Congressman Kildee.

Currently, a commercial aquaculture facility near Grayling has a state-issued permit, through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, to expand its fish farming operation by 15 times its current size. The expansion will pollute the “Holy Waters” of the Au Sable River, one of Michigan’s 16 rivers designated a “Wild and Scenic River” by the federal government based on its unique ecosystems and pristine scenery.

Congressman Kildee’s two bills include:

  • The Ban Aquaculture in the Great Lakes Act, which would ban aquaculture facilities in the Great Lakes, ending the current patchwork of state laws that attempt to regulate such commercial fishing.
  • The Preserving Fishing on Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which would ban aquaculture facilities on Wild and Scenic Rivers and its tributaries, such as the Au Sable River, unless such facilities are shown not to discharge pollutants into the river.

Banning aquaculture has support from a vast majority of Michiganders, as well as lawmakers and conservation groups. According to a recent poll, 68 percent of Michiganders oppose aquaculture in the Great Lakes. Additionally, this issue is not a partisan one; Republicans in the Michigan Legislature have previously introduced legislation to ban aquaculture in the Great Lakes and in Michigan waterways.

Congressman Kildee’s legislation also has support from the Anglers of the Au Sable, Michigan Trout Unlimited, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan Salmon and Steelhead Association and For the Love of Water (FLOW).

“Anglers of the Au Sable applauds Congressman Kildee for addressing an overlooked Great Lakes water issue, the introduction of pollutants by fish farms into the Lakes and connecting waterways,” said Tom Baird, president of the organization that focuses on improving fishing on the Au Sable River. “It is vital that fish farms be operated in a way that protects the cleanliness of our rivers and lakes, which are in a delicate balance easily tipped by addition of wastes from aquaculture done improperly. Flow through systems that use rivers as virtually open sewers are of particular concern to those of us who fish for trout, which need clean, cold water to thrive. This legislation would ensure only properly regulated fish farms which don’t pollute are allowed on designated rivers.”

“The Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association is one of the largest sport fishing organizations in the Great Lakes Basin. Our mission is to protect, promote and enhance sport fishing in the Great Lakes and connecting water ways. We are proud to support legislation to prohibit aquaculture in the Great Lakes and to prohibit aquaculture operations that contribute to pollution of wild and scenic rivers,” said Dennis Eade, Executive Director of the Michigan Steelhead & Salmon Fishermen’s Association.

“We appreciate Congressman Kildee’s leadership on this very important sportsmen’s issue.  Aquaculture facilities across the globe that are connected to public water bodies have proven to be disastrous for water quality and fish health. Our $4 billion fishery in Michigan drives local economies, creates jobs, and connects millions of Michigan citizens to our long and storied heritage as the premier fishing destination in North America,” said Michigan United Conservation Club.

###

Opinion on Aquaculture by Bill Schuette, Attorney General

Great Lakes advocates say that commercial net-pen fish farming, pictured above, does not belong in Michigan’s public waters.
Since our A.G. has emphasized the importance of public trust in the Great Lakes and navigable lakes and streams, including Great Lakes, we’ve analyzed the doctrine, applied it to fish farming in Great Lakes, and the answer is: it cannot be authorized under the public trust doctrine, not even by legislative amendment to expand the definition of aquaculture as implied by the A.G.’s opinion.

 

Read the recent Attorney General opinion on Aquaculture in the Great Lakes: Click here! 

Read More about Aquaculture in FLOW’s recent Aquaculture issue brief! 

(Also available in Flipbook form)

 

Bipartisan Congressional Bill Offers Orderly Mechanism to Shut Down Line 5 Because of High Magnitude of Harm and Risks.

Line 5 Pipeline

The article linked below provides a good synopsis of the new federal bill H.R. 458 that would provide an orderly mechanism to shut down Line 5 if a 12-month study determines the risk is simply too significant to allow crude oil to flow through the heart of the Great Lakes.  The bill’s sponsors Congressmen Dave Trott (R) and Debbie Dingell (D) have launched a just approach to removing Line 5 because of its magnitude of harm and high risk.

It is important to remember that risk is not just inspections and probability. Risk (R) equals the magnitude of harm (H) multiplied by probability (P). When the magnitude of harm is high, like the devastation to the Straits, drinking water, communities, fishing, tribal interests, riparian landowners, resorts, including Mackinac Island, and all of the tourist related business, probability is less important. Under high risk management systems, the immediate action is to remove the high risk by implementing an alternative that reasonably accomplishes the overall purpose – in this case, transport of crude oil to refineries. Refineries exist in the South, Midwest, West, and East. The pipeline system in the U.S. and Canada is a mesh of pipelines to carry oil. Capacity exists within the system. In fact, they must because pipelines are shut down, and there must always be a backup plan. Given the age of the pipeline, 63 years, and the massive currents, and the high magnitude of harm, Enbridge needs to look for another way to move oil in cooperation with the overall system it manages. It doubled capacity when it replaced Line 6b, as part of the deal for devastating harm to Kalamazoo River fishery, ecosystem, and property owners. With this new line 6b with double the capacity, Enbridge does not need Line 5, it is time to shut it down. The bill, if passed, which it should be if Congress has any sense at all regarding the value of the Great Lakes and water resources in this country, should lead to the removal of Line 5, and finally the removal of the last crude oil line in Great Lakes waters. Let’s make sure no new crude oil pipelines or ships carry crude oil, including dilbit from Tar Sands, in, over, or on the Great Lakes. When there are existing routes, lots of companies, and the crude oil network runs on land where it is easier to inspect, twenty percent of the world’s fresh surface water should not be at risk. 

Read an article on the bill here by Garret Ellison,

OR

Read the text of H.R. 458 here.

 

Interview with Brooke Weatherford from Eightfold Creative

I support keeping oil out of the Great Lakes

FLOW is forever spreading awareness. It is our job to educate people about public trust and about what is happening with the Great Lakes in the world today – the joys and potential threats, and what we can do about our water. Part of that awareness is through social media. We teamed up with Eightfold Creative to gather awareness in an eye-catching way to important Great Lakes issues. I have Brooke Weatherford here today to talk about the process.

 

Brooke, thanks for joining us. Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Brooke Weatherford. I am a recent graduate of Michigan State University’s Master’s in Advertising program with a specialization in Non-Profit Fundraising. I earned my B.A. from MSU as well in 2015 in Marketing. I currently work as a social media coordinator under the brand Eightfold Creative out of Detroit, Michigan. Eightfold Creative is a high-quality video production company founded by a group of my friends in 2013 that has grown into a highly competitive force in the industry. I have always been passionate about advertising strategy and knew that I wanted to do some type of creative branding. Two years ago, I began independently managing social media pages for a few local businesses under the Eightfold brand. Fast forward to today, and I have been doing social media management, content creation, and design work consistently, while finishing my degrees and working on a number of other Eightfold Projects. 
 

Tell us some more about Eightfold Creative, and what makes it unique.

Eightfold is unique because it was started from the ground up by a group of MSU students in film and business only five short years ago. Since then, the company has acquired a number of high profile clients and has developed strong relationships with top level advertising agencies in Detroit. Eightfold is the perfect example of the next generation taking the reigns of an industry and doing things their own way. The culture and work ethic of this group is truly outstanding, and even though I never expected to be immersed in the film industry, I really love where it has taken me. The best way to understand Eightfold is to visit our site and view the productions. They truly speak for themselves. 
 

It’s a Michigan-based company. And a lot of the work you have been doing for FLOW focuses specifically on Michigan and the Great Lakes. A passion and personal investment is often present in your work. What instigated this passion for the Great Lakes?

I have always had a strong love for the outdoors. Growing up, my parents always had a boat, and I would spend every weekend out on the lakes being rocked to sleep by the waves, and waking up to the sound of the Lake Michigan seagulls. As I have grown older and began traveling the world, I have developed a sense of pride for Michigan and its natural beauty, feeling almost as if it is a secret that people don’t always understand unless they have experienced it first-hand. Growing up in East Lansing, I learned about community activism early on, and participated in it throughout high school. But the idea of involving it into my career didn’t hit me until midway through my college career. As I traversed through a series of corporate internships, I learned more and more about what it means to love what you do. I found that getting involved and pursuing ways to contribute to helping non-profits by doing what I do best was a way to get fulfillment out of my career. Today, I have worked on social media and branding campaigns for 4 non-profits and hope to expand this portfolio. I spent last summer creating media for an eco-village in the Panamanian jungle, where I learned exactly what it meant to live 100% sustainably, in harmony with the land and water, and how to communicate the teachings of that lifestyle back to people at home.  Much of my free time today is spent loving the outdoors and surrounding myself with that culture.
 

That’s excellent. There is so much outdoor beauty right here in Michigan. To take that one step further, tell us about how your experiences inspired your ideas for the social media campaigns. 

The idea behind the imagery in the campaigns for FLOW were based in the goals of creating an emotional connection that would boost awareness about key issues like shutting down Line 5. Fortunately, the beauty of the outdoors is something that we all have in common, so using the beautiful attention grabbing photography to stop people from scrolling was an easy first step for me. Beyond that, the key to this campaign was consistency and simplicity, and the call to action about sharing that really made the connections with people. The posts are meant not only to educate but to give users a sense of pride by posting the photo. When they share a post that clearly states their support for a cause like protecting wildlife, or keeping pollution out of the Great Lakes, they automatically gain rapport from their online peers. Caring about something is becoming trendy, and posting about it online helps people not only feel like they are helping contribute, but puts them in a positive light in their friends’ eyes. Capitalizing on these emotions to boost awareness about important environmental issues was my primary strategy with this campaign. 
 

Aside from sharing the posts, what can our readers do to help contribute?

I think the best way to help care for the Great Lakes is to talk about them with the people around you. As impactful as social media can be, it is the social part that makes the most difference. Telling your friends, family, and co-workers about risks the Great Lakes are facing, or educating them on how to be a more responsible citizen is what will make the most difference. Being vocally appreciative for the natural world is another way to make people think. If someone who respects you hears you speak fondly of the Great Lakes and their pristine beauty, they may consider their own impact or appreciation more deeply. 10 of these conversations could then turn into 40 and then into 100 and then into thousands. A change in culture is the only way to make a real difference, and changing culture starts with the confident and sincere voice of a friend. 
 

Well, we have been glad to hear your voice today. Brooke, where can people find out more about you and your work?

You can learn more about me and my work at www.brookeweatherford.com,

and also at www.eightfold-creative.com.

 

Thanks for sharing, Brooke.

 
 
 

Michigan’s Growing Threat: Fish Farming in the Great Lakes & Tributaries

Great Lakes advocates say that commercial net-pen fish farming, pictured above, does not belong in Michigan’s public waters.

Great Lakes advocates say that commercial net-pen fish farming, pictured above, does not belong in Michigan’s public waters. FLOW’s latest issue brief, available here, summarizes the public trust legal framework in Michigan that prohibits Great Lakes fish farming, outlines the significant economic and environmental risks that aquaculture poses, and recommends actions the public can take.


Michigan sits at the center
of a debate over whether to open its Great Lakes waters to commercial aquaculture or fish farming. The practice involves packing thousands of fish into near-shore cages or mesh net-pens that rise above the surface, are anchored to the bottom, and accessed via pier or boat. The fish are fattened with food pellets and buoyed by antibiotics, and discharge tons of untreated waste rich in nitrogen and algae-producing phosphorous into public waters.

Great Lakes advocates, including environmental and anglers groups, tribes, scientists, legal experts, a trio of state agencies, and lawmakers in both major parties, say that net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes is not legally authorized and is too risky for the environment, native species, and the multibillion-dollar sport fishing economy.

This FLOW Issue Brief summarizes the public trust legal framework in Michigan that prohibits Great Lakes fish farming, outlines the significant economic and environmental risks that aquaculture poses, points to the promise of closed-loop aquaculture operations not connected to public waters, and recommends actions the public can take.


(Click to access PDF of the issue brief)

State Must Stop Oil Flow, Hold Public Hearings on the “Line 5” Oil Pipelines in the Mackinac Straits

Photo: Bruce Trudgen Pipelaying Operation as the Pipe was Pulled across the Straits from St. Ignace

Photo: Bruce Trudgen, 1953.  Pipelaying Operation as Line 5 was pulled across the Straits from St. Ignace.

Under Michigan law, the state must stop Line 5’s oil flow and hold public hearings on the steel pipelines lying underwater in the Mackinac Straits as it considers Enbridge Energy’s application to remedy easement violations and shore up its aging underwater infrastructure, according to FLOW (For Love of Water), a Traverse City-based Great Lakes water law and policy center, in formal comments released today.

For the ninth time since 2001, Canadian energy transport giant Enbridge is seeking state permission to screw large pipeline anchors into Lake Michigan’s public bottomlands where the Straits’ powerful currents have eroded the lake bottom and left the dual Line 5 pipelines – installed in 1953 – unsupported for long stretches, in violation of the state easement agreement limiting unsupported spans to 75 feet. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is receiving public comment through August 28, 2016, on Enbridge’s application, which also is being reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

FLOW’s legal analysis concludes that Enbridge’s “maintenance” application to install up to 19 more anchors actually disguises Enbridge’s piecemeal actions that continue to significantly expand oil transport through and around the Great Lakes. In addition, the application fails to address Enbridge’s pattern of easement violations and perpetuates the imminent threat to the Great Lakes and the public’s protected uses thereof that include fishing, commerce, navigation, recreation, and drinking water. Line 5 transports nearly 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids each day through the Mackinac Straits, 80 percent more volume than its past design capacity after several of its so-called “maintenance” upgrades.

“Between Line 5 and the new Line 6B, Enbridge has quietly built its own massive crude oil pipeline system here in Michigan and the Great Lakes without adequate public notice, hearings, and the legally required analysis and determinations of potential risks, impacts, and alternatives for a project of this magnitude,” said Jim Olson, FLOW’s founder and president and a renowned water rights attorney.

Given the scope and risk, the state must stop the Straits oil flow at least temporarily, hold public hearings, and examine Line 5’s full range of potential impacts to the Great Lakes ecosystem and alternatives that do not pose such harm, rather than continue to rubberstamp Enbridge’s misleading maintenance applications. The Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board is conducting a parallel review of Line 5 in the Straits slated for completion in late 2017 or early 2018, but that process is neither under the rule of law nor complies with the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act (GLSLA) or other state and federal law.

“It is time for our state’s leaders, specifically DEQ Director Grether and Attorney General Schuette, to bring this matter under the rule of law – the GLSLA and public trust law – that protects our Great Lakes, towns, and citizens, and subject Enbridge to a comprehensive review,” Olson said. “Such a review must address the fact that Line 5 is an unacceptable risk and that there exists a new Line 6B from Illinois and across Michigan that Enbridge replaced and doubled in size after its Kalamazoo River oil that will meet current and future Midwest demand.”

“Based on the evidence, it appears that Enbridge has shoved its own version of the ‘Keystone XL’ through the Great Lakes and on the backs of citizens without any review of the risks, harms, and alternatives. This is the worst place on the planet for it. We don’t need a ‘Great Lakes XL’ for crude oil near our Great Lakes or in the Straits of Mackinac, especially where alternative to Line 5 exist,” Olson said.

Of particular concern is Enbridge’s continued failure to predict and prevent the cumulative impacts on Line 5 of lakebed erosion caused by Straits currents that frequently reverse and can exceed 10 times the flow over Niagara Falls.

“Enbridge’s piecemeal approach to managing washouts and installing adequate support under the Straits crossing of Line 5 has resulted in the line frequently being out of compliance with easement support requirements since the 1970’s,” said Ed Timm, PhD, an engineer advising FLOW. “Washouts are inherently unpredictable and it is likely that damage to the pipe has already occurred because of unsupported spans that were not detected and repaired by Enbridge’s two-year inspection and repair schedule.”

While the state’s 1953 easement agreement granting Enbridge conditional occupancy of state bottomlands allows Enbridge up to 90 days to cure any violations, the erosion problem appears to be unfixable and worsening with time.

“The Achilles’ heel of the state easement agreement is that Enbridge has proven itself unable to remain in compliance and therefore frequently is operating illegally,” said Liz Kirkwood, FLOW’s Executive Director and an environmental attorney. “State law demands that the Great Lakes and their public uses must not be risked for Enbridge’s private benefit. It’s time for the state to defend the public’s rights and prevent a catastrophic oil spill into the drinking water supply for half of Michigan residents, and for a total 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada.”

Stopping Line 5’s oil flow in the Mackinac Straits to prevent a catastrophic oil spill would not disrupt Michigan’s or the Midwest’s crude oil and propane supply, contrary to assertions by Enbridge, according to a set of expert reports FLOW released in December 2015. Available capacity and flexibility to meet energy demand in the Great Lakes region already exists in the North American pipeline system run not only by Enbridge, but also by competitors supplying the same refineries in Detroit, Toledo, and Sarnia, Ontario.

“The fact is, Line 5 is not essential,” said Rick Kane, a Michigan-based hazardous materials risk management specialist advising FLOW. “The regional pipeline system can supply crude oil to Michigan and surrounding refineries while eliminating the risk that Line 5 poses to the Great Lakes,” Kane said. “Feasible and prudent alternatives exist to support domestic needs, as well as exports.  However, pipeline company owners will not move to implement any alternatives as long as Line 5 operates and the public continues to carry the risk.”

For more information, visit:

Enbridge’s application and public notice may be viewed at:

  • https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/. The public can view the application or submit comments by clicking on the Public Notice Search and entering “Enbridge” in the Applicant Name section.