Tribe Lauds Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force Report, Urges Action


SAULT STE. MARIE, MICHIGAN — The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians expressed its appreciation July 15 for the hard work accomplished by the Michigan Petroleum Pipelines Task Force, but is discouraged that it did not recommend the immediate decommission of Line 5.

“We believe a catastrophic spill is imminent as long as that line is pumping a million gallons a day under the Mighty Mac,” said Sault Tribe Chairperson Aaron Payment. “As stewards of our natural resources, Sault Tribe stood on the front lines with various friends to call for Line 5 to be shut down, due to the disaster looming over what are not only the tribe’s homelands, but also the largest freshwater system in the world.

Payment said he is encouraged that the report recommends some strong measures, including an independent review of the risks and costs that would be incurred in the event of a spill, and measures to force Enbridge to carry sufficient liability insurance or other fund guarantees to cover likely cleanup costs.

“This is perhaps the strongest recommendation, and the most likely to lead to decommissioning Line 5,” Payment added. “Decommissioning pipelines under the Great Lakes Basin is most important to protect the tribes’ right to fish and to keep Pure Michigan pure for tribal members and others living and visiting the Great Lakes.”

The tribe supports the task force’s recommendations and urges Governor Snyder to implement the recommendations without delay, specifically:

— Prevent any future shipment of heavy crude oil through the Line 5 pipelines underwater in the Straits of Mackinac. This recommendation begs the question, however, if a leak is feared, why didn’t the task force recommend Line 5 closure?

— Disclose Line 5 pipelines safety inspection information. Sault Tribe supports this recommendation, having made a similar one. Without full disclosure, no one can have confidence in any safety claims made by Enbridge.

— Order an independent analysis of the worst case spill risks, costs to clean up, and adequacy of response planning and resources available at the Straits of Mackinac. The tribe supports this recommendation as one of its own, and is confident once this analysis is complete, it will lead to the decommissioning of Line 5.

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