New bills would prohibit anchor dropping in Straits permanently

Jul 5, 2018

Ice builds along the shore near Mackinaw City in April 2018.
Credit 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.

Republican Representative Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) is a bill sponsor. He said Michigan has taken a backseat to regulating the line so far.

“I think the state of Michigan has to do everything we can to increase our authority over these pipelines and to ensure our lakes are ganna be kept clean for future generations to come.”

That increase and authority could also come in the form of other bills proposed by Chatfield and a couple other lawmakers. That includes increased penalties for spills and a new reporting requirement for pipeline owners. They would have to, among other things, submit in-depth spill prevention plans.

“We can’t just be careless with how we’re doing it,” said Chatfield. “We can’t just turn a blind eye to these companies that are running these pipelines through our Straits.”

But water activists say this isn’t enough to protect the Great Lakes.

“This gives some false assurances of added safety measures,” said Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action. “Much like there were false assurances right before Line 6B broke in the Kalamazoo River.”

McBrearty said they want nothing short of full decommission of Enbridge Line 5.