Every day 71-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 foreign 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 over 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 that 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. The proposed Enbridge oil tunnel would take years to build while the Great Lakes remain at risk.

Former Governor Snyder made a backroom deal to allow Enbridge to build an oil tunnel through the Straits of Mackinac but did not require it to do so. 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. Enbridge experts testified, and independent experts agree that Line 5 can be shut down without spiking energy prices.

Enbridge is trespassing on the Bad River Band reservation in Wisconsin. A judge ordered its pipeline to shut down there by 2026, but Enbridge is appealing the ruling to delay any shutdown.

Now, Enbridge is abusing its power to continue pressing for a tunnel. It is pushing Canadian officials to wrongfully enforce a 1977 pipeline transit treaty to keep Line 5 open indefinitely.

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 an 80-year-old Line 5 before a tunnel is ever completed).

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 background of this page shows the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline that ruptured and destroyed the Kalamazoo River. Don't let this happen in the Great Lakes.

The State of Michigan ordered the pipeline shutdown on May 12, 2021, but Enbridge ignored the order. Watch the video that reveals the shocking reasons behind the shutdown order.

We need President Biden to step in, revoke the presidential permit, and shut down Line 5.


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