PREVENT AN OIL SPILL IN THE GREAT LAKES
The mission of the Oil and Water Don’t Mix campaign is to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan inland waterways by eliminating the potential for an oil spill from the portion of Enbridge, Inc.’s Line 5 that consists of two 20-inch-in-diameter oil pipelines running through the water along the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac.
To accomplish this mission, the campaign is asking for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s leadership on this vital issue. As the State’s primary trustee of the Great Lakes public trust waters and bottomlands, Governor Snyder has the solemn perpetual duty to ensure that the actions of both public and private parties are not likely to harm this shared resource. This means that the State must ensure uninterrupted use for fishing, commerce, navigation, recreation, and drinking water supplies for future generations.
We are calling on Governor Snyder to invoke his authority under the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act (“GLSLA”) and require that Enbridge submit a bottomlands conveyance application.
The Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act requires any use of Great Lakes bottomlands to first apply for a permit from the State to ensure that the proposed private use of such lands and waters will neither substantially affect the public use or public trust interests of the State. The Line 5 pipeline has never gone through this process, so our State has never determined the risks to our public trust resources and whether this use has a public benefit.
On July 1, 2014, seventeen organizations submitted a letter to Michigan Governor Snyder, urging him to address Enbridge’s 62 year-old Line 5 oil pipeline by requiring Enbridge to apply for a bottomland conveyance. The letter also asked the Governor to address Enbridge’s lack of transparency and disclosure regarding its current use of Line 5. It also called for review of the company’s compliance record with the terms and conditions of the 1953 easement and agreements it made under Act 10, P.A. 1953 and public trust law.
THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW - BEFORE A SPILL
The public-interest organizations raising awareness and concern about the oil pipelines on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac agree that we need to keep oil out of the Great Lakes. The groups all agree that we need to start by asking our State an important question: Why are twin pipelines that put 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water and the entire region’s economy at risk even allowed to be there?
As a first step, requiring Enbridge to file a Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act conveyance application will help us get answers to that question.
“The State, as the owner and trustee, has a perpetual responsibility to the public to manage these bottomlands and waters for the prevention of pollution, for the protection of the natural resources and to maintain the public's rights of hunting, fishing, navigation, commerce, etc.” –Michigan Department of Environmental Quality website
Moving forward, some of these groups favor requiring significant upgrades, technological safety reviews and increased spill cleanup measures for Enbridge’s Line 5 through the Straits. Others favor complete replacement of the twin pipelines with the best available pipeline technology, such as double-walled systems. Finally, there are many groups that support working toward permanently removing Enbridge’s oil pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac. These groups are convinced that only the shutdown of Line 5 through the Straits can guarantee that an oil spill will not pollute the Great Lakes.