ST. IGNACE, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Leaders of the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance and more than 150 supporting organizations sent a letter to President Joe Biden last week to ask for the decommissioning of Enbridge Line 5 due to “imminent oil spills impacting Bad River Watershed and Great Lakes” which they say represents one-fifth of the world’s surface freshwater.
The Enbridge Pipeline travels under the Straits of Mackinac and the Canadian oil company says it has operated without incident at the Straits of Mackinac for more than 65 years moving products to heat homes and businesses, fuel vehicles and power industry in the state of Michigan.
Michigan News Source reported on May 18th that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel asked a Wisconsin federal court to take emergency action to protect Lake Superior from an “imminent threat” posed by Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline. She had filed an amicus brief in support of an emergency motion filed by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians of the Bad River Reservation. Cited was rapid erosion of a riverbank which Nessel says increases the likelihood that the pipeline will rupture.
Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy had commented about the tribe’s emergency motion by saying, “Line 5 continues to operate normally and safely across the Bad River Reservation. Enbridge’s filling asks Judge Conley to reject the Bad River Band’s request to shut down Line 5 because the pipe is not exposed, it is completely covered by multiple feet of soil; there is no pipeline safety issue, no emergency, and no reason to shut down Line 5.”
In the new letter to President Biden, the indigenous group says that the president needs to “immediately revoke the presidential permit for Canada’s deteriorating Enbridge Line 5 pipeline before environmental calamity strikes with oil spills into the Great Lakes.”
They explain, “At the Bad River Reservation, recent flooding has eroded one riverbank to within 11 feet or less of Line 5’s centerline, creating an immediate threat. This is a nearly 70-year-old pipeline running almost two decades past its engineered lifespan. Erosion from receding waters or the next rainfall could cause a ‘guillotine rupture’ – a vertical break causing oil to gush from both sides, poisoning the Bad River watershed and Lake Superior.”
They go on to say, “Revoking the presidential permit and forcing Enbridge to cease Line 5’s operations is consistent with your Administration’s directives for climate, nation-to-nation relations, and environmental justice. It is also consistent with the knowledge we share that the Great Lakes – one-fifth of the world’s surface freshwater at a time of growing water scarcity – are invaluable treasures that must be protected, regardless of political pressures, special interests, and short-term profits.”
Although Line 5 supplies 65% of propane demands in the Upper Peninsula and 55% of Michigan’s statewide propane needs and transports up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude and natural gas liquids, the Indigenous group says in their letter that shutting down Line 5 would have “no sizable impact on gas prices in the area” and that the market would quickly adjust to the shutdown. They predict that shutting down Line 5 would result in gasoline prices to rise by less than one cent per gallon in Michigan and Wisconsin and that there is “no public need for Line 5.”
Supporters listed in the letter include Animals are Sentient Beings, Inc.; Arm in Arm for Climate DC; Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice; Earth Guardians; Great Lakes Business Network; Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition; Michigan League of Conservation Voters; Progress Michigan; Rainforest Action Network; Sierra Club; Upper Peninsula Propane Research Team and Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN).
Another supporter in the letter, The National Wildlife Federation, reports on their website “Line 5 has a long history of unleashing environmental damage. In the last 50 years, the pipeline has had at least 33 spills, releasing a total of 1.3 million gallons of product into the environment.” The report also says that the pipeline is “no longer safe in the unique and fragile environment of the Straits.”