The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) recently approved permits for Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel application. Enbridge hopes to build the “oil tunnel” as a replacement for the 68-year-old Line 5 pipeline, to continue pumping oil through the heart of our Great Lakes. As a reminder, this is the same company responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, the second-largest inland oil spill in our country’s history, that has cost more than $1 billion and taken more than a decade to clean up.
Fortunately, gaining approval from EGLE is just one step in the process for the Line 5 tunnel project. Enbridge will need to gain approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward. Putting a stop to Line 5 and the tunnel project is crucial if we want to protect our Great Lakes and drinking water from a catastrophic oil spill.
Here are five reasons the Enbridge Line 5 tunnel project should not proceed:
1. Enbridge is the same company responsible for the second-largest inland oil spill in our country’s history
In 2010, Enbridge’s Line 6B Pipeline ruptured west of Marshall, Michigan spewing oil into the Kalamazoo River and the surrounding area. More than 800,000 gallons of oil contaminated the environment, and it took Enbridge 17 hours to realize the spill had even happened. This event shook the community and caused permanent environmental damage. The spill took more than a decade to clean up, which is still ongoing and the price tag has exceeded $1 billion. The unfortunate truth is, Michigan is home to the second largest inland oil spill in history because of Enbridge Energy. We can’t afford to repeat past mistakes by allowing this company to build another major pipeline project in the heart of our Great Lakes.
2. Approving Enbridge’s tunnel plan would lock Michigan into outdated fossil fuel infrastructure for another 99 years
Given the pressing climate impacts facing Michigan, there’s a clear need to reduce emissions and transition to clean, renewable energy. Continued investment in dangerous oil pipelines will anchor our state to decades of obsolete fossil fuels that exacerbate climate change. The fact is: we can and should be investing in clean energy to create jobs instead of relying on technologies of the past that pose a danger to our Great Lakes.
3. Leaders are moving our state and country toward clean energy. Enbridge’s proposal is a tunnel to nowhere
During his first days in office, President Biden took historic actions to set our country on a path to a carbon-free economy by 2035. Last year, Gov. Whitmer announced her MI Healthy Climate plan, which sets a goal for Michigan to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. With major Michigan automakers, like GM moving to all-electric vehicles, the writing on the wall is clear. Moving forward with the Line 5 tunnel project will keep Michigan stuck in the past.
4. Propane alternatives for Line 5 are readily available
There are alternative sources for the small amount of propane that runs through Line 5 to U.P. customers. The Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force and other experts have identified clear solutions that will ensure the U.P. has the energy it needs for heating with minimal impacts to prices. Line 5 is not the only source of propane for these customers and there are safer alternatives that don’t risk an oil spill in our Great Lakes.
5. Enbridge has a poor track record for safety and transparency and shouldn’t be trusted
Time and time again, Enbridge has shown a total disregard for the safety of our Great Lakes — from the 2018 anchor strikes, to exposed bare metal weakening the pipeline’s integrity, to the rupture of Line 6B in 2010 that spilled more than a million gallons of oil, they have proved their priorities lie in profit and not in protecting our natural resources and people. Enbridge has failed to demonstrate proper care for the current Line 5 pipeline and it cannot be trusted with our most precious natural resource. We have no reason to believe this tunnel project would be any different.