We want to help you get started writing Letters to the Editor (LTE) to help shut down the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline. Please review these materials and come prepared with questions and comments at the LTE Training.
Just Start It!
When you have an idea for a possible LTE, put SOMETHING down immediately. Don't worry about getting it right; that will come later. Talk about it for input.
1. When sending an LTE to a newspaper or other publication:
-Use https://wordcounttools.com/, Microsoft Word, or another word counter.
-Go online for a publication's requirements & word limits. Often there are tips.
-Title doesn't count toward # of words. Maybe let the paper choose a title.
-Don't send LTE as an attachment; put it in the body of an email or use a fill-in box.
-Include your name, address, and phone #. The publication will print only your name and city.
2. Standard practice:
-Think about your audience. What is your goal, your ask?
-Be concise, keep it simple, don't use two adjectives, and choose the best one.
-Explain initials (MPSC, Michigan Public Service Commission) on first use.
-Use a personal connection, your area of expertise or interest.
3. Some personal preferences:
-Hook to a news story or opinion within a few days if possible.
-Begin strongly, then come back to that & conclude with what to do.
-Double-check facts, don't overstate.
-Don't vent or use exclamations.
-Write for a reader unfamiliar with your topic.
-ALWAYS! Let it sit a day before sending.
When you think, "I've nailed it!" you will likely improve it in the morning.
-ALWAYS have someone edit before sending. I rotate friends & family for this.
4. Advice from an expert:
-Limit yourself, don't include everything you know.
-Don't be afraid to repeat what's important.
-Be calm and constructive. Today, rants have become too commonplace.
Check out this video from climate advocate Bill McKibben
See the slide deck from McKibben's presentation
Recommendations from the Sierra Club
SAMPLE 1: Line-5 letter focused on one doable action. 150 words
Save the Great Lakes – Brenda's Way
The Earth's largest freshwater system, the Great Lakes, sustains Pure Michigan. Canadian Enbridge Oil chooses a Line 5 straits shortcut for profit when it has safer options.
Line-5, designed to last 50 years, will be 70 next year. Damaged by anchor strikes, formidable currents, and even by its 217 remedial supports, Line-5 is a ticking-time-bomb. Yet now Enbridge wants Michigan to own a tunnel to extend Line 5 for another century.
Want to help? Speak up without a word- that's Brenda's way. Wear your "No Line-5 No Tunnel" T-shirt everywhere you go. When biking in that T-shirt, people ask about it. Don't have one? Go to oilandwaterdontmix.org. Or make one with a slashed-out-5-in-a-circle, so people will ask what it means.
Do it with a friend this summer. It's easy, fun, and might save the Great Lakes.
SAMPLE 2: Line 5 letter with news hook about high gas prices 150 words
Pain at the Pump and the Great Lakes
Biden seeks to suspend gas taxes, criticizing oil companies "for prioritizing profits over production." $5 a gallon hurts everyone —except oil companies, like Enbridge, which use high gas prices to justify pipelines as they rake in record profits.
Enbridge warns gas prices will rise 20% if Line-5 shuts down, but its expert testified prices would rise only 1/2 cent a gallon without Line 5— a small price to pay to protect 20% of the Earth's freshwater.
Instead of moving Line-5 oil to its 7-yr-old line around the lakes, Enbridge plans to operate the fragile but more profitable 70-yr-old Line 5 while boring a tunnel directly below it.
Legally, Biden could shut down Line 5 tomorrow, but high gas prices make shutdown of any pipeline politically risky. Unless Biden rises above political pressure, the Great Lakes are at significant risk— for Enbridge's profit.
3. PRACTICE LTE: Get ideas using our Truth Vs. Enbridge Lies page.
-Write an LTE for practice or for real on any one issue. Email it to Barb Stamiris for feedback or sharing if you wish.