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Canada sends letter supporting Line 5, environmental groups voice frustration

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.

The letter shows Ontario’s disregard for the safety of the Great Lakes, said David Holtz of the Sierra Club and the group Oil and Water Don’t Mix.

“It throws a spotlight on the fact that, for Canada, this is a risk-free benefit,” said Holtz. “For Michigan this is all risk.”

Ontario borders four of the Great Lakes.

In the letter, the Ontario Minister of Energy called the pipeline a “critical piece of infrastructure.”

“Ontario supports Michigan’s review of the continued operation of legacy energy infrastructure, including Enbridge’s Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac,” it said.

The Ministry was unavailable to comment beyond the letter.

Liz Kirkwood is with For Love of Water. She says the focus shouldn’t be on ways to keep the pipeline. The focus should be on different ways to transport the energy.

“I believe that Michiganders, Canadians, people who live here in the Great Lakes, we are innovative and we fundamentally are problem solvers,” she said.