Every day 65-year-old pipelines push nearly 23 million gallons of oil through the heart of the Great Lakes. What if they ruptured?

Aging pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge lie exposed in the water at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. These pipelines, called Line 5, were built in 1953 during the Eisenhower administration.

When another Enbridge pipeline ruptured in 2010, it spilled about 1 million gallons of heavy crude oil into the Kalamazoo River.  It was the largest land-based oil spill in U.S. history, and is still being cleaned up. Enbridge’s Line 5  through the Straits of Mackinac is 15 years older than its pipeline that gushed oil into the Kalamazoo River.

Despite assurances they could detect a leak "almost instantaneously," Enbridge initially misdiagnosed the massive spill into the Kalamazoo River, restarting pumps twice and allowing 17 hours to lapse before final shutdown.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compared their poor handling of the disaster to the bumbling of the “Keystone Kops.”

This was just one of 1,068 Enbridge spills that dumped 7.4 million gallons of oil between 1999 and 2013 -- an average of 71 spills and 500,000 gallons leaked per year. That’s more than one oil spill every week for the last 15 years.

Where will the next Enbridge spill occur?

Map showing locations of previous Enbridge spills in the United States

Major Enbridge Oil Spills

Now it's even more urgent. Enbridge annouced plans to build a Canadian oil tunnel through the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge and Governor Snyder made a backroom deal to explore building a tunnel through the Straits of Mackinac. With over 95% of the oil in Line 5 coming from and returning to Canada, it makes little sense for Michigan to build a tunnel for Canadian oil. A tunnel is a bad idea on many levels.

With a $500 million price tag for a new tunnel, you can be sure Enbridge won't be satisfied until they rebuild the rest of Line 5 to carry tar sands, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. It was tar sands that spilled into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. Oil from tar sands contributes more to climate pollution than other fossil fuels because it is so energy intensive to refine. Fossil fuel companies will do whatever they can to exploit the vast tar sands reserves in Alberta, Canada (and plan to move them to market via pipelines like the Keystone XL, and an upgraded Line 5), essentially setting off a carbon bomb in the atmosphere.

A tunnel would take several years to plan and build, all while keeping the Great Lakes at risk from the current Line 5 (imagine a 70 or 75-year-old Line 5 before a tunnel is ever completed).

We don’t need to keep the Great Lakes at risk of a catastrophic oil pipeline rupture in the Straits while state officials spend years and taxpayer resources keeping an old oil pipeline running so a Canadian oil transport company can get a new pipeline built in Michigan to transport heavy tar sands oil.

Watch how spilled oil could spread across the Straits

Pipelines fail. These aging pipelines or an oil tunnel in the Straits are not worth the risk. We need you to help prevent a disaster.

The State of Michigan has failed to take meaningful action to protect the Great Lakes since this pipeline was rediscovered by the public in 2014. Oil & Water Don't Mix has released a sensible and practical plan to decommission Line 5. Endorse our plan now that calls for the shutdown of Line 5 while preserving the small benefit it provides to Michigan, and then SIGN THE PETITION  opposing an oil tunnel.

Your voice will help build more of the political pressure needed to protect our Great Lakes – above all else.

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