Published September 7, 2015
MACKINAW CITY, MICHIGAN—Each Labor Day some 40,000 people walk across the Mackinac Bridge, a bridge that spans five miles to connect Michigan’s two peninsulas under the Straits of Mackinac. The Labor Day walk is the region’s busiest time of the year.
Under the Straits of Mackinac lies two twin pipelines owned by Enbridge called Pipeline 5, which are 62-years-old. Using 1950s technology, the pipelines had a life expectancy of 33 years.
Enbridge does not have a great track record in Michigan. In July 2010 its pipeline burst that dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, which became the worst inland pipeline spill in American history.
Concerned with the old-age condition of Enbridge Pipeline 5, environmentalists in the Great Lakes region are concerned a major pipeline burst under the Straits of Mackinac would be catastrophic to the region.
In an attempt to capture the attention of the 40,000 people at the bridge walk this Labor Day weekend, hundreds of American Indians joined environmental activists, who formed a flotilla in canoes, kayaks and motor boats, to call for the shut down of oil flow through Enbridge Pipeline 5.
“Not paying attention to a pipeline that runs through the largest body of fresh water in the world, is insane,” commented Steven Naganashe Perry (Ottawa) to Native News Online after he protested on Sunday. “Pipeline 5 needs to be removed. We just can’t take a chance,”
Steven Naganashe Perry protested on Sunday
Lee Sprague, former ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa and long-time environmentalist, thinks there is a lot to be worried about when it comes to Enbridge Pipeline 5:
“The real question is: What are the legal and regulatory obstacles, to removing the Pipelines by December before ice sets in? Or within a year. It is virtually impossible to clean up an oil spill under six feet of ice. How would a winter oil spill be responded too? Because oil only spills during open water.”
Among the American Indian protesters on Sunday were Michigan Idle No More members and Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan Chief Steve Pego.
The protesters were back out on the Straits of Mackinac on Monday, Labor Day, during the annual bridge walk.