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Whitmer orders shut down of oil pipeline that threatens the fresh water of the Great Lakes.

4 min read

“Most importantly, Enbridge has imposed on the people of Michigan an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that could devastate our economy and way of life. That’s why we’re taking action now, and why I will continue to hold accountable anyone who threatens our Great Lakes and freshwater.” Governor Gretchen Whitmer, MI

Fighting Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan has ordered the shut down of an Enbridge petroleum pipeline located on the channel bed (linking Lake Michigan and Lake Huron) in the Straits of Mackinac. The legal action seeks to permanently shut down the Enbridge Line Five light oil and natural gas liquid pipeline.

The company moves twenty-five percent of the oil produced in North America and transports twenty percent of the natural gas according to the Enbridge website.

The pipeline easement was granted in 1953. 

This news is stirring up the white nationalist militias and other conservative groups in Michigan. The brave and principled Governor is the sort of fighting Dem this site has advocated for since Daily Kos first appeared. She is an inspiration on how to make a better world, managing pandemic, and fighting for a livable planet. We should have her back on any backlash she may receive. 

From The Independent:

On Friday, the Democratic governor’s counsel said in a letter to Enbridge that it was revoking an easement granted in 1953 to extend a roughly 4-mile (6.4km) section of pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac, a channel that links two of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

The revocation will take effect within 180 days, at which point the flow of oil must stop.

Gov Whitmer’s office said the revocation resulted from “a longstanding, persistent pattern of noncompliance with easement conditions and the standard of due care.”

“Enbridge has routinely refused to take action to protect our Great Lakes and the millions of Americans who depend on them for clean drinking water and good jobs,” Gov Whitmer said in a statement. “They have repeatedly violated the terms of the 1953 easement by ignoring structural problems that put our Great Lakes and our families at risk.

Environmentalists have been concerned about the safety of the 645-mile long pipeline for decades. Outrage grew against Enbridge in 2018 when a Tug dragged a six-ton anchor across the dual Line 5 pipelines denting the pipe in the Mackinac channel. Astonishingly, the tug captain apparently did not realize the anchor was being dragged across the lakebed until it had reached the State of Indiana. The anchor also sliced three power cables and spilled 800 gallons of mineral oil.

From Bridge Michigan:

The report said human and mechanical errors led to the mishap, specifically “the failure of the anchor detail to secure the barge’s starboard anchor, and the improper adjustment of the anchor brake band.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the report “reinforces what we already know: It is incredibly dangerous for Line 5 to continue operating in the Straits.”

“All of the enforcement mechanisms in the world won’t prevent a tragedy from an unintended, accidental anchor strike. We are prepared to take legal action to decommission Line 5 as quickly as possible to protect the freshwater resources that are absolutely critical to our state,” the Democrat said in a statement Wednesday.

Lawmakers wanted to make the Line 5 strike a felony, while Enbridge touted their safety record. But how can you tout a safety record that ignores the Kalamazoo oil spill in Battlecreek, MI in 2010? 

Meanwhile, Enbridge is seeking federal and state permits to encase the oil lines in concrete.


From the Kalamazoo River Watershed:

In July 2010, a massive oil spill was discovered in Talmadge Creek, a small tributary to the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Mich. It was the result of a ruptured pipeline managed by Enbridge Energy Partners, LLC. Up to a million gallons of tar-sands crude oil was released into the creek, which contaminated a 30-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River in excellent ecological condition. The magnitude of the oil spill made it one of the largest in-land oil spills ever experienced in the United States at the time.

The river level was unusually high at the time of the spill, unfortunately resulting in the spread of oil onto river banks and into expansive floodplain wetlands. The most heavily oiled river banks and floodplains were upriver of Battle Creek, but oil also contaminated the river downstream to the upper end of Morrow Lake. The emergency response, coordinated by Enbridge Energy, U.S. EPA, and state and local government agencies, successfully contained the oil above the remaining 80 miles of river (and Lake Michigan). Around 3,000 animals, mostly turtles but also geese and other water birds and some mammals and snakes, were collected, cleaned and released or maintained in captivity over the winder. Surprisingly, there were no significant fish kills.

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