Environmental and tribal groups urge extra precautions to protect the Great Lakes from oil pipeline rupture

"The annual and growing threat is not worth risking the Great Lakes, nor your reputation as a leader who takes the protection of our public trust resources seriously."

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Fourteen environmental and tribal groups have written a letter to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer urging her to protect the Great Lakes in case of a rupture of Enbridge Line 5.

The groups write to Whitmer of the wintertime conditions in the state that could cause serious threats to the Line 5 oil pipeline, which runs under the Straits of Mackinac. They ask the governor to enact tighter standards that would trigger a shutdown of oil pipeline during certain hazardous weather conditions:

“As November gales and hazardous ice conditions rapidly approach in the Straits of Mackinac, we are writing to call urgent attention to the serious threat of a winter Line 5 oil pipeline rupture to the Great Lakes and northern Michigan communities and the failure to put adequate
limitations and safeguards in place.”

The groups accuse the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board and Big Oil corporation Enbridge of falling “far short of even minimal protections and safeguards from the consequences of a major Line 5 oil pipeline rupture during winter and storm conditions generally in the Straits.”

“The urgency to take action could not be more evident or paramount,” the letter concludes. “Therefore, we are requesting that you, as Governor, make immediate preparations to avoid potential disaster, prior to the onset of predictable wind, high seas, and ice that make effective oil spill response impossible, threatening drinking water, public safety, Native American Treaty Rights, the public trust in the Great Lakes, and the economic well-being of Michigan communities.”

Mike Shriberg, regional executive director of the Great Lakes Regional Center, who was one of the people that signed the letter, said that the standards the groups are asking for were actually approved by the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, but that Governor Synder ignored them anyway.

The groups ask the governor secure Enbridge’s immediate commitment to halt the transport of oil through the Straits of Mackinac when waves exceed 3.3 feet or winds are in excess of 18 mph and, should Enbridge at any point either refuse, or be unable, to transport natural gas liquids to Rapid River, that the governor and state immediately take measures to ensure the uninterrupted supply of propane to portions of the Upper Peninsula currently serviced by Line 5.

You can read the full letter here.

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