Enbridge violated the easement that allows it to use the Great Lakes for its pipeline in several ways (watch video).
The pipeline was ordered shut down by Gov. Whitmer to protect the Great Lakes in May 2021. Enbridge did not obey the order.


Nearly 23 million gallons of oil flow daily through two 71-year-old pipelines in the heart of the Great Lakes, just 1.5 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge. Constructed in 1953 during the Eisenhower administration, the two 20-inch-in-diameter “Line 5” crude oil pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge, Inc. lie exposed at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, a busy shipping channel.

Location of Line 5 Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac

Enbridge’s pipelines, which run about 1,000 feet apart at depths ranging from 100 to 270 feet, have been on the bottom of the Straits for over seven decades. Enbridge installed several support structures under the pipelines in 2006, 2010, and 2018 following the company's oil spill into the Kalamazoo River - the nation's second-largest land-based oil spill. Now, hundreds of supports elevate 3 miles of the pipeline off the lakebed into the turbulent current. This design was never approved and makes the pipeline unsafe.


Line 5 Beneath the Straits of Mackinac - Photo courtesy NWF

Enbridge officials have claimed that properly maintained pipelines can last indefinitely, but the company’s history of major spills in Michigan and North America proves otherwise. Today, 90 to 95% of the oil flowing through the Line 5 pipelines comes from Canada and takes a shortcut through Michigan and the Straits of Mackinac before crossing back into Canada near Port Huron.

Line 5 has spilled 33 times and at least 1.1 million gallons along its length since 1968.

The pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac cross one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the world. The Great Lakes are home to 21 percent of the world's fresh surface water. The pristine Straits area supports bountiful fisheries, provides drinking water to thousands of people, and anchors a thriving tourism industry with historic and beautiful Mackinac Island right in the center. This area is the definition of Pure Michigan.

Urge President Biden to ActSeveral troubling factors have come together that cause grave concern:

  • An anchor strike in 2018 from a ship in peril gashed and dented both underwater pipelines.
  • Enbridge contractors severely damaged pipeline supports in 2019, but Enbridge safety measures missed the damage, which wasn't even discovered until June 2020. The pipeline was temporarily shut down to inspect the damage (subsequently reopened).
  • Enbridge, Inc., the Canadian company that operates the pipeline, has a tarnished safety record. Its spills include the second-largest inland oil spill when Line 6B spilled 1.1 million gallons of tar sands bitumen into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.
  • The contract between the pipeline company and the State of Michigan (the Easement) has ongoing compliance issues. Gov. Whitmer revoked the easement in 2021 because of eight known violations that make the pipeline dangerous.
  • The age, location, and questionable condition of the pipeline.
  • An increase in the volume and pressure of fluids moving through the pipelines
  • There is a lack of transparency about safety inspections and what petroleum products are being transported through Line 5 in the Great Lakes.
  • The lack of proactive regulatory environments in Michigan and at the federal level.
  • University of Michigan scientists modeled the currents in the Straits of Mackinac and called it "the worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes."
  • Line 5 is a shortcut for Canada's benefit, with less than 5 to 10% of the product used in Michigan.
  • Scientists warn that we have less than ten years to reduce carbon emissions by half or face dire consequences from a dangerously overheating climate. Moving away from dirty fuels like the ones carried by Line 5 is even more urgent.

This is a Grassroots Campaign 
Citizens like you make this work possible. Join this effort and help prevent a disastrous oil spill in the Great Lakes. Please donate or buy a t-shirt, hoodie, yard sign, or sticker to support this work. You can also TAKE ACTION in many ways.

bridge-ice.jpgThe Straits of Mackinac is a natural and cultural treasure held in trust by Michigan for its residents. The Straits, which link Lakes Michigan and Huron, separate Michigan's Upper Peninsula from its Lower Peninsula. Ten times more water than flows over Niagara Falls creates powerful currents that cycle daily. The Straits' strong underwater currents, fierce winds, and extreme winter weather conditions, often including feet-thick ice cover, make them ecologically sensitive and would make cleanup or recovery from a pipeline spill especially difficult.

The time is now to fully examine a private corporation's use of these public waters and Great Lakes bottomlands. We must ensure the protection and preservation of the Straits of Mackinac. We all must act now to Keep Oil Out of the Great Lakes.


Enbridge Inc. owns and operates a large pipeline system that carries petroleum products and natural gas liquids to refineries in various destinations throughout North America and for export overseas. This crude oil is a raw product that becomes gasoline and other transportation fuels.

View the Enbridge Liquid Pipelines Map

Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 71-year-old 645-mile petroleum pipeline in the larger Enbridge Lakehead System. Line 5 carries oil from Superior, Wisconsin, across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, through northern Michigan, down to the thumb region, and under the St. Clair River to Sarnia, Ontario. Along the way, the pipeline crosses through the Straits of Mackinac, 400 rivers, streams, and wetlands. In northern Michigan, it goes through almost 10 miles of wetlands and runs right next to


See the short film "Oil & Water" which exposes the problem

many of our sparkling inland lakes. Line 5 is 30 inches in diameter, except when crossing the Straits of Mackinac, where it splits into two 20-inch pipes about 1,000 feet apart. Construction was completed in 1953. The twin pipelines under the Straits now carry approximately 540,000 barrels, or 22.7 million gallons, of oil and natural gas liquids daily.

In addition to Line 5, the Enbridge Lakehead system includes other pipelines moving petroleum products across the Great Lakes region. This pipeline system is the primary transporter of crude oil from western Canada to the United States, with approximately 4,700 miles of pipe and 60 pumping stations serving all the major refineries in the Great Lakes, Midwest, and Ontario. In recent years, as the production of tar sands oil in Canada and crude oil in North Dakota has exploded, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of new pipelines proposed to carry this fuel to refineries and coastal export terminals.


Line 5 carries synthetic crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. The sources are tar sands bitumen from Canada, refined to a “light” oil or “high sour.” Enbridge states that “heavy” diluted bitumen, a less refined and more corrosive product released into the Kalamazoo River in 2010, does not currently run through Line 5. This pipeline may also carry crude oil that originated in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.

Line 5 terminates in Sarnia, Canada, across the St. Clair River from Marysville, Michigan. The pipeline was bored or tunneled just below the river bed. In 2010, adjoining Line 6B was replaced under the St. Clair River after it was found to have a dent. Sarnia, Ontario, has many refineries that produce gasoline and other commercial petroleum products. In short, much of the oil transported through Line 5 originates in western Canada, is shipped through Michigan and the Great Lakes, and refined in Canada for markets back in Canada and overseas.

Enbridge moves Canadian Oil from Alberta to Montreal

In 2015, the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline used to transport oil from Montreal to Sarnia was reversed as part of the company's Eastern Canadian Refinery Access Initiative. According to Enbridge's website (screengrab here), the pipeline was reversed from (Sarnia) to "Montreal (Line 9B) in an eastward direction to allow for discounted western Canadian crude, which can be sourced from several locations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Bakken region to access Quebec refining markets."

If you wonder where the oil from Line 5 ends up, you need to consider this reversal - the product in Line 5 is not for Michigan. It's for Canada's benefit.

You can help now.

Join those working to protect the Great Lakes & climate from the Enbridge Line 5 crude oil pipeline.

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