Letter: Not too soon to shut down Line 5

New state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Heidi Grether thinks it’s too soon to begin taking action to decommission Enbridge’s twin Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.

Too soon? The state has been studying these dangerous pipelines for more than two years and wants at least another year of study. Meanwhile, up to 23 million gallons of oil a day pass through the turbulent Straits, threatening the Great Lakes, our northern Michigan tourist economy and a safe drinking water source for 30 million people.

Perhaps Grether, a former oil industry lobbyist, should consult the state’s attorneys who would tell her that they notified Enbridge this month that it is violating legal commitments by failing to install pipeline anchors in the turbulent Straits. This is not the first time that Enbridge has failed and you have to wonder how many Enbridge failures state officials are willing to tolerate. A little over five years ago Enbridge’s failures resulted in a million gallons of oil being spilled into the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Michigan.

Pipelines rupture. That’s a fact that should make the Great Lakes no place for oil pipelines. We didn’t understand that in 1953 when the state allowed them to be constructed in the Straits, before we understood how strong currents and other factors undermine the integrity of even the best pipelines. So while Grether says it’s too early to act, Michiganians respond by saying the time for action is long overdue. She needs to prioritize protecting the Great Lakes before it’s too late.

David Holtz, chair

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

Executive Committee