- By Neely Bardwell
The Michigan Public Service Commission has requested data and information on the safety risks of Canadian energy giant Enbridge’s Line 5, noting their application to build a proposed replacement for the segment that runs under the Straits of Mackinac lacks in engineering and safety information, including on the risks of explosion. Enbridge has proposed encasing Line 5 in a tunnel beneath the Straits.
In 2021, Governor Gretchen Whitmer terminated the easement that permits the dual pipeline to cross the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge continues to use the pipeline, effectively trespassing, as they violate the termination notice.
Should Line 5 break or leak, it will threaten the drinking water of more than 40 million people.
Tribal nations have stressed for years the safety risks associated with the pipeline. The Bay Mills Indian Community has made it clear that this pipeline endangers their community.
“Any decision that may jeopardize the very livelihoods of Tribal Nations deserves serious and careful consideration,” said Bay Mills Indian Community President Whitney Gravelle. “We are grateful the Commission is examining the serious safety risks posed by Line 5 and its proposed tunnel replacement. The Straits are the center of creation for our people, and the construction of a tunnel through this sacred area endangers our livelihoods, our fisheries, and our culture. Every day that the Line 5 dual pipelines continue to pump oil and gas through the Great Lakes amounts to a violation of our treaty-protected rights and an acceleration of climate change. We must stop the tunnel project and shut down Line 5.”
The Native American Rights Fund (NARF), a nonprofit organization focused on defending Tribes’ rights in the courtroom, has been representing the Bay Mills Indian Community along with non-profit public interest law firm Earthjustice.
“It is reassuring to know that the Commission is doing its due diligence in order to accurately consider the impacts, risks, and damages the existing Line 5 oil pipeline and a tunnel would cause for the public, in particular tribal citizens,” said NARF Staff Attorney David L. Gover in a statement “I am hopeful that the Commission will join tribal and state governments in guarding public safety, the local economy, and the Great Lakes ecosystem from a risky and unnecessary project."
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