Straits of Mackinac

Governor Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that his administration has reached an agreement with Enbridge Energy to replace Line 5, the 65 year old twin pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. 

The agreement calls for a new pipeline that would run through a tunnel dug into bedrock below the lake bed. 

Aaron Selbig

Some lawmakers in Lansing say the entire Straits of Mackinac need to be an anchor free zone – permanently.

Governor Rick Snyder temporarily made the Straits an anchor free zone. That was after an anchor damaged the oil and gas pipeline, Enbridge Line 5, and caused cables to leak mineral oil into the water.

U.S. Coast Guard

Michigan’s attorney general is suing an Escanaba-based shipping company that he claims is responsible for a mineral oil leak in the Straits of Mackinac earlier this month.

Aaron Selbig

CORRECTION 4/13: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the U.S. Coast Guard said damage to an electric transmission line under the Straits of Mackinac may have been caused by an "anchor strike." The Coast Guard says the leak may have been caused by "damage from vessel activity."

Governor Rick Snyder is asking Enbridge Energy to accelerate it’s decommissioning of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

Aaron Selbig

The U.S. Coast Guard has organized a command post in Mackinaw City to respond to a mineral oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac. Around 600 gallons of fluid leaked from underwater electrical lines west of the Mackinac Bridge earlier this week. 

 


At least 400 gallons of mineral oil have leaked into the Straits of Mackinac.

American Transmission Company operates power lines that deliver electricity between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The company called the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday night to inform them of a leak of dielectric fluid, which is used to insulate the electrical lines under the Straits.  

Michigan environmental groups are frustrated with Ontario’s support for keeping an oil-and-gas pipeline running beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The province’s Ministry of Energy sent Michigan a letter earlier this week that stressed the importance of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline to Ontario.

Environmental groups say this flies in the face of their efforts to shut down the pipeline. Line 5 carries crude oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac. Activists say it’s a massive environmental risk.

Cheyna Roth

New public meetings began Thursday about the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. Several state agencies and the authors of a report suggesting alternatives to the pipeline gave a presentation and took questions. 

 The pipeline sends oil and natural gas across sections of lower and upper Michigan and under the Straits of Mackinac.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDY VIDEO

The state has released a list of possible alternatives to Enbridge’s Line 5, the oil and gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. The report was written by a contractor and details some of those alternatives.

 

Line 5 is a 64-year-old pipeline that has generated a lot of controversy. The report was commissioned by the state to look at all the options for replacing it.

 

 

 

The state of Michigan has scrapped a risk study on Enbridge’s Line 5 and fired the contractor just a week before a first draft of the report was to be released.

The state Department of Environmental Quality said a conflict of interest on the part of one of the researchers called the independence of the study into question.

David Cassleman

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the days of an energy pipeline running beneath the Straits of Mackinac are numbered. But, a task force led by Schuette does not recommend that day should come anytime soon.

Amelia Payette

It didn’t look like an attack at first when American Indians in the Straits of Mackinac joined the rebellion against the British. Ojibwa and Sauk Indians started a game of baggatiway – renamed lacrosse by the French – in front of Fort Michilimackinac.

Indian women watching the game kept hatchets under their garments and passed them to the warriors when they rushed the fort. They quickly killed more than 15 British soldiers and held the fort for a year. One observer reported seeing the attackers "furiously cutting down and scalping every Englishman they found."
 

William L. Clements Library

Fort Michilimackinac opens today in Mackinac City. The original fort was built 300 years ago by the French during their war with the Meskwaki Indians.

Only a few pieces of the original Michilimackinac remain, but a reconstructed fort is open to visitors. Brian Dunnigan is a historian at the William L. Clements Library in Ann Arbor and says there is a fair amount of documentation detailing what the fort looked like in the latter part of the 18th century.

The Sierra Club is suing the federal government to get an order for an environmental risk study of an oil pipeline that runs through some sensitive areas.

The Sierra Club is disputing a US Fish and Wildlife Service decision to allow Enbridge Energy to continue pumping oil through the 1,100-mile line that connects Minnesota to Ontario through Michigan and Wisconsin. The Enbridge Energy line runs across the Upper Peninsula, under the Straits of Mackinac, and through the Lower Peninsula to Sarnia-Ontario.

We've been working to find an answer to the question, "What's the status of the aged Enbridge oil pipeline running through Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac?"

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the state Department of Environmental Quality have officially told Enbridge Energy the company has to do a better job of securing an oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

The pipeline is part of a 1,900-mile network that runs from North Dakota to Sarnia, Ontario.

DEQ Director Dan Wyant says a state inquiry found the 61-year-old Enbridge pipeline that runs through the Mackinac Straits has fewer supports anchoring it than what’s called for in its lease with the state.

MarkShauer.com

Democratic candidate for governor Mark Schauer has vowed to not let “one drop” of oil spill in the Great Lakes if he’s elected.

Environmental groups say a 60 year old pipeline under the straits of Mackinac is in poor condition and could rupture. The pipeline is operated by Enbridge. That’s the company responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River.

Schauer made the comments on Michigan Public Radio’s statewide call-in program Michigan Calling.

(UPDATE: An official in the Department of Natural Resources says the agreement with Enbridge granting an underwater easement to run the pipeline is not confidential. Walter Linn says it is available to the public and he knows of no confidentiality clauses in it.)

A group of U.S. and Canadian citizens that advises the Great Lakes Fishery Commission says an aging pipeline under the Mackinac Bridge should be replaced. They say there’s too much danger of a “catastrophic” oil spill in an “especially sensitive area” with fast-moving currents and frequent ice cover.

Enbridge Energy says this four-mile stretch of “Line 5” meets all modern regulations and that it has seamless metal walls an inch thick. But it is 60 years old, and this is not the first citizen group to call for its replacement.

Emergency unemployment benefits and senatorial "jitters" over an Enbridge oil pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac: Both are issues consuming attention from Michigan's congressional delegation.

More than a week ago, a federal unemployment benefits program expired, leaving 1.3 million jobless Americans without aid. Some 45,000 of them are here in Michigan.

The program is the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. In Michigan, the EUC added 36 more weeks to the state's regular 20 weeks of benefits.

On Capitol Hill today, Democrats are trying to pressure House Republicans to extend the program for three more months.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is trying to ease concerns over an oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler joins us now to tell us more about these issues.

Listen to the full interview above.

  Michigan’s two U.S. Senators are raising a series of questions about the safety of an oil pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin are asking for a response from the federal agency that oversees pipeline safety.

Earlier this year Enbridge Energy increased the flow in line 5 by 50,000 barrels a day. That also meant increased pressure in the 60 year old line.

The senators point out that a spill in the waters of the Straits would have devastating effects on the Great lakes and on the region’s economy.

Oil Pipeline Spurs Rally At Straits

Jul 12, 2013

Environmental groups want an oil pipeline company to replace a sixty-year-old line that runs under the Straits of Mackinaw. They’re holding a rally at the Straits this Sunday.

Beth Wallace with the National Wildlife Federation says there have been leaks in other sections of line 5, not in the part that runs under the Straits.

“You know this pipeline is not spill proof. And an expansion of a sixty year old pipeline that runs through some of the most sensitive areas in the world is not the direction that we should be going,” Wallace says. 

The same company responsible for the worst inland oil spill ever wants to increase the amount of oil going through its pipeline under the Straits of Mackinaw.

Enbridge Energy says it has increased safety inspections since the disaster at the Kalamazoo River a couple of years ago. And the company says the pipeline that runs underwater west of the Mackinaw Bridge is perfectly safe.

But a Great Lakes environmental group isn’t convinced and is trying to stop the plan.