LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Line 5 is a threat to Michigan, the Great Lakes, it must be closed down


Line 5 is a crude oil/natural gas pipeline owned by the Canadian company Enbridge. 

It runs from Lake Superior through Wisconsin across the Upper Peninsula and down through the Lower Peninsula to where it is refined in Sarnia, Canada. 

As the oil and gases are moved through Michigan however, the line crosses perhaps the most sensitive part of the Great Lakes — the Straits of Mackinac. 

The pipeline pushes 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas through the Straits daily.

Line 5 was built 64 years ago with the intended lifespan of only 50 years. 

That alone is enough to cause Great Lakes natives stress, because any oil spill in the Great Lakes would be devastating. 

After in-depth research by experts from the University of Michigan and the United States Coast Guard, it has been concluded that the Straits are the “worst possible place for an oil-spill.”

In 2015, the University of Michigan released a simulation of what a Line 5 failure in the Straits would look like — it wasn’t pretty. 

The convergence of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in the Straits create currents that are 10-times faster than the water rushing over Niagara Falls. So what does that mean for an oil spill? 

The simulation showed that more than 700 miles of Michigan coastline would be devastated by a Line 5 failure. The cleanup process would be much easier said than done. 

The USCG stated that oil clean-ups on the Great Lakes could only commence during the day and when waves are under three feet high, which only occurs two-thirds of the year. 

To make things worse, the clean-up of oil in the winter, under several feet of ice, is nearly impossible. 

What we’re looking at is a disaster that would bring our state to a point of no return. 

We would see the world’s largest source of fresh drinking water contaminated, beautiful real estate property ruined and the tourism industry that drives a large portion of the Michigan economy obliterated.

So what can be done about it? 

Because Enbridge is a Canadian company passing through Michigan waters, they need to comply with an easement. 

The easement requires the twin pipes to be supported every 75 feet. 

A consultant’s report demonstrated Enbridge knew, perhaps for decades, Line 5 was not properly supported. 

This violation, along with several others, makes it Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s duty to halt the flow of Line 5 through the Straits. 

As leaders of our state, this is a a no-brainer, but it is clear they have faced added pressure and compensation from the fossil fuel industry to not enforce the Michigan Environmental Protection Action and the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act. 

This threat must be eliminated without further delay. 

With strong public pressure, we can protect our state from another major water disaster. 

It is important that we, as keepers of the Great Lakes, take the initiative to shut down Line 5 before it is too late. 

No matter what political party you support, we all benefit from the integrity of our freshwater resources. 

Whether it is pushing our universities and towns to sign anti-Line 5 resolutions, pressuring elected officials to act or educating our families and friends, we can all can keep our Great Lakes oil-free. 


Onondaga Junior