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Water Advocates: Snyder Betrays Great Lakes Again

The pipeline under the Mackinac Straits transports up to 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids each day. (JasonGillman/morguefile)
The pipeline under the Mackinac Straits transports up to 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids each day. (JasonGillman/morguefile)
January 31, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – A coalition working to protect the Great Lakes says Gov. Rick Snyder has again sidestepped leadership on a major water issue by refusing to shut down the oil pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits.

Last month, the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, which Snyder created, urged the governor to temporarily shut down Enbridge Line 5 until it can be inspected for gaps and repaired.

Snyder rejected that proposal this week, saying it could cause a propane shortage.

Sean McBrearty, campaign coordinator for the coalition Oil and Water Don't Mix, says the state is merely delaying the inevitable.

"To be clear about this, Line 5 is going to shut down at one point or another,” McBrearty stresses. “Whether that's by government edict or whether that's by Line 5 rupturing is a question for the governor to answer. "

Snyder also turned down two other proposals from board members – one would renegotiate an agreement with Enbridge to temporarily shut down the pipelines during stormy weather, and another would study ways to supply Michigan with oil and propane without Line 5.

Thousands of Michigan residents have offered comments in opposition to the pipeline, in addition to resolutions from all of the state's tribal governments and more than 70 municipalities calling for action to decommission the pipeline.

In the wake of the Flint water crisis and the ongoing legal battle over the amount of groundwater Nestlé is allowed to pump out of Michigan, McBrearty maintains the Snyder legacy puts the "Pure Michigan" way of life at risk.

"I don't think we can rightly call ourselves the Great Lakes State if we're not working to protect what is over one-fifth of the world's fresh water right here in Michigan," he states.

Frustrated with the lack of state action, Oil and Water Don't Mix has released its own plan for decommissioning the nearly 65-year-old line.

The governor's office says the state continues to examine the risk of a potential oil spill and is waiting for the results of another risk analysis before deciding the future of Line 5.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI