Enbridge is attempting once again to upgrade its dangerous Line 5 oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits without any public hearing that would examine the condition of these outdated pipelines.
When they tried this eight months ago, Enbridge ran into a solid wall of public opposition. Recent revelations that their pipelines have unsupported spans that exceed the maximum length allowed means there is a heightened risk of metal fatigue and failure.
Submit Your Public Comment: Sign this Petition
Join us in asking the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) as part of its permit conditions to conduct a comprehensive review of Enbridge's Line 5 in the Straits before the company attempts to squeeze more life out of their aging pipelines.
Please note that submitting your public comment here has nothing to do with the Line 5 ballot proposal that is being circulated.
To the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:
We are writing in reference to Enbridge’s joint application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (“MDEQ”) and United States Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) (No. 2RD-DFDK-Y35G) to install 22 anchor supports on the Line 5 pipelines in the Mackinac Straits.
We urge the MDEQ to reject Enbridge’s application as incomplete and to hold a public hearing as provided in Section 32514 of the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act (“GLSLA”) and R 322.1017 (Rule 17), along with proper notice and additional time for public comment. The magnitude of public interest in Line 5 and the Great Lakes warrants a public hearing on this important matter.
Enbridge’s application is deficient for the following reasons:
- it fails to demonstrate the potential adverse harm from a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes;
- it fails to demonstrate feasible and prudent alternatives to Line 5, which include a range of alternatives related to Enbridge’s ongoing expansion of oil transport throughout the Great Lakes region;
- it fails to demonstrate compliance with the 1953 Easement with the State of Michigan and to evaluate Enbridge’s piecemeal expansion of Line 5; and
- additional information about the integrity of the entire submerged Line 5 infrastructure is critical to protecting the public’s paramount interests in the Great Lakes.
Under Michigan’s GLSLA, the MDEQ cannot grant approval of this permit unless the following standards are addressed: a) a determination that the environment will be minimally harmed and that those adverse impacts will be mitigated; and (b) there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the proposed activity that will protect the public health, safety and welfare. Enbridge’s application fails on both counts.
As an immediate emergency measure or condition of Enbridge’s application, MDEQ should suspend or reduce the transport of the rate of flow of crude oil through Line 5 in the Straits to immediately reduce the pressure and risk from the twin-pipelines in the Straits pending further proceedings; in the alternative, order the installation of anchors to reduce spans without supports below 140 feet pending further proceedings with the express condition that no assurance of any final permit under the application without a demonstration of compliance with state law.
Enbridge incorrectly claims its proposed patchwork response to Line 5’s major structural defects is “routine maintenance” when in reality the requested anchor supports will further the continued expansion of Line 5 and Line 6B in southern Michigan to largely transport Canadian oil to Canadian refineries and overseas markets.
Moreover, the recent disclosure of the Kiefner Report reveal that Enbridge has for years, perhaps decades, systematically violated the provision of the 1953 Easement with the State of Michigan that limits unsupported stretches of Line 5 to 75 feet for the pipeline’s structural integrity and longevity. This neglect coupled with the Straits powerful underwater currents likely has caused metal fatigue damage. This is particularly concerning since Line 5 currently transports 540,000 barrels per day (bbls) - 80 percent over its original design capacity.
With no reliable model to predict lakebed washouts due to the highly dynamic nature of currents in the Mackinac Straits, Enbridge cannot meet its legal duty under the state easement to prudently operate this pipeline.
The law is clear. The State of Michigan and MDEQ have “a perpetual duty . . . to secure to its people the prevention of pollution, impairment or destruction of its natural resources, and rights of navigation, fishing, hunting, and use of its lands and waters for other public purposes.” Therefore, the MDEQ must undertake a formal comprehensive review of impacts and alternatives associated with Enbridge’s entire Line 5 pipeline in the Straits and waters and bottomlands of the Great Lakes.
This duty is separate and independent from the Line 5 risk and alternative studies commissioned by the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board.
In sum, no final permit should be authorized until Enbridge has demonstrated the following: (1) Line 5 in the Straits is not likely to impair the protected public trust waters and uses in the Straits and beyond; (2) there exists no feasible and prudent alternative to Enbridge for Line 5 in the Straits within Enbridge’s overall capacity throughout its “Lakehead” or Great Lakes pipeline system; (3) it has provided additional information on the pipeline metal fatigue and heightened risk of failure; and (4) it is not violating the 1953 Easement with the State of Michigan.
This recently uncovered video from 2012 showing the condition of the Line 5 pipelines reveals long unsupported spans and other damage to the pipes. No amount of anchors will fix the shifting bottomlands of the Great Lakes, or repair the metal fatigue introduced by the decades-long unsupported spans. After you've seen the video, please SIGN THE PETITION.