Line 5

An aging oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac threatens our Great Lakes with a devastating oil spill.

“The worst possible place for an oil spill.” That’s what University of Michigan researchers call the Mackinac Straits where strong, erratic currents and thick winter ice make the consequences of an oil spill disastrous. Despite these warnings, deep beneath the Straits lies Line 5 -- an aging set of twin pipelines that transports 23 million gallons of oil every day.

Built in 1953, the pipeline is showing its age. There are gaps in its protective coating, and it's missing critical supports that anchor the pipeline against the lake’s floor. This level of deterioration is predictable -- the pipeline only had a fifty-year lifespan. But even before Line 5 passed its life expectancy, it posed an unnecessary risk to our Great Lakes. There have been 15 documented leaks along other portions of the pipeline since 1988.

Compounding our concerns, Line 5 is owned by Enbridge, the Canadian company responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster -- the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history.

Now the company has made plans to build a tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac to house the pipeline.

The risk our Great Lakes and coastal communities is simply too high. It’s time to retire Line 5.

Our Work

  • Opposing the Line 5 Tunnel. Enbridge has filed an application before the Michigan Public Service Commission to site a tunnel to house their pipeline. We are intervening to oppose Enbridge’s MPSC application, along with Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, National Wildlife Federation and Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. Our goal is to ensure the interests of the Great Lakes and Michigan residents are represented. In short, the pipeline is no longer needed, and Line 5's continued operation violates the Michigan Environmental Protection Act.

  • Working together. As steering committee members of Oil and Water Don’t Mix, we're opposing other Enbridge permits, including the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act permits. 

Want to help?

For the past 25 years, MEC has represented Michigan residents in Michigan Public Service Commission cases. Our joint work opposing Line 5 is no exception. But these endeavors cost quite a bit. A direct donation, no matter its size, can help our cohort of intervening groups with the deep knowledge, connections and power to stop Enbridge from putting Michigan in harm's way.

Want to learn more?

Check out our two Capitol Connection webinar on our legal fight against Line 5, featuring policy director Jennifer McKay, policy director of Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and fellow intervenor.