“The worst possible place for an oil spill.”
That’s what University of Michigan researchers call the Mackinac Straits, a place between Lakes Michigan and Huron 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, its curvature is wrong and it's missing critical supports that anchor the pipeline against the lake’s floor – all of which violate the permit that made the pipeline possible.
This level of deterioration is predictable – the pipeline only had a 50-year lifespan. But even before Line 5 passed its life expectancy, it posed an unnecessary risk to our Great Lakes. There have been 33 documented leaks and 1.1 million gallons of oil spilled along portions of the pipeline since 1968.
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.
While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Line 5's termination in May 2021 because of its permit violations, Enbridge plans to through its death throes. It still plans to build a tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac to house the pipeline.
The risk to our Great Lakes, coastal communities and outdoor economy is simply too high. It’s time to retire Line 5.
Enbridge has filed an application before the Michigan Public Service Commission to build 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 member group 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.
Oil & Water Don't Mix
As steering committee members of the massive pro-Great Lakes coalition Oil and Water Don’t Mix, we're opposing other Enbridge and its desired permits through education, advocacy and grassroots organizing with dozens of other groups and thousands of individuals.
How We Work
- As steering committee members for Oil & Water Don't Mix
- As legal intervenors in a Michigan Public Service Commission pipeline tunnel permit
- As always, with our member groups
- As always, at the Capitol