Line 5

Algae grows on submerged pipelines on a lake bottom.
University of Michigan

Indigenous governments and activists in the Great Lakes have been leaders in the movement to shut down the twin oil pipelines that run under the Mackinac Straits.

Now, one of the most visible people in that movement has left his tribal government job and set up his own consulting firm. One of his clients? The pipelines’ owner, Enbridge Energy.

This sudden change has upset indigenous communities in the region, and some worry it’s a “divide-and-conquer” tactic.

Ballard Marine Construction

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says she’s ready to go to court to force Enbridge to shut down a pipeline, Line 5, that moves oil and gas on a route that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. That’s if the energy company and the state don’t reach a deal by the end of June.

But Nessel says it also sets a deadline for negotiations on the future of the pipeline.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)

Newly released images from Enbridge Energy show damage sustained to the Line 5 oil pipelines from an anchor strike last April.

The video and photos given to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation show a gash across the east pipeline, and several dents and scrapes on the west pipeline. In written testimony Enbridge identifies three dents on the pipelines caused by the anchor strike, the longest was more than 23 inches.

Enbridge also provided all this information to the U.S. Coast Guard who is investigating the strike.

GREGORY VARNUM

Electrical cables in the Straits of Mackinac were severed when an anchor struck them last year. More than 400 gallons of mineral oil, acting as a coolant, leaked out.

The Line 5 oil pipelines were damaged during the same incident.

A proposed tunnel would house Line 5 and the electrical cables to avoid more damage, an idea Enbridge Energy supports and Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she is open to.

But in a letter, Vice President of American Transmission Company Tom Finco says that plan could be dangerous.

GREGORY VARNUM

The Line 5 oil pipelines in the straits of Mackinac were struck by an anchor last April. Then at a hearing held by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in August, Enbridge Energy Vice President David Bryson pledged to release information on the strike.

 


Today on StatesideGovernor Whitmer reopens talks with Enbridge about a tunnel to house replacement pipelines for Line 5. But environmental groups want the current Line 5 shut down before moving forward on plans for its replacement. Plus, park officials say the thousands of shards of glass found on a beach at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore were likely placed there intentionally. 

MARK BRUSH / MICHIGAN RADIO

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in an interview with the Detroit News that she is considering a tunnel for an oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. A tunnel is one of several proposed alternatives to the Line 5 oil pipelines.

Gregory Varnum

Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer last week ordered state agencies to stop working on a proposed tunnel intended to house replacement pipelines for Enbridge's Line 5. We hear about the legal opinion from Dana Nessel that prompted that order, and how Republican lawmakers are reacting to the news. Plus, a conversation with the paleontologist who worked to unearth Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur ever discovered. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says a law passed last year to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Mackinac Straits is unconstitutional.

One of the first things Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did when she took office in January was to ask for an attorney general’s opinion on the law, which former Gov. Rick Snyder pushed through in the waning days of the legislature.

Three people stand outside in the snow, smiling.
Cody Bigjohn Jr.

Indigenous water walkers will travel from Mackinaw City to Lansing to call for a shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipelines.

Sarah Jo Shomin, Nancy Gallardo, and Cody Bigjohn Jr. plan to walk 311 miles over the next 17 days.

They're calling the journey "N'biish Nibimosaadaanaa", which is Anishinaabemowin for "We Walk for Water."

They say they plan to stay in prayer the entire time.

Shomin is the leader of the walk. She wants to send a specific message to state politicians.

A new report says the State of Michigan did not thoroughly review Enbridge’s ability to cover costs in the case of a spill from its twin Line 5 oil pipelines before it signed an agreement with the company. The pipelines run underneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge Energy

A tunnel for the Line 5 oil and gas pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac has its first permit. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued it to Enbridge Energy on Tuesday.

The permit would let Enbridge take soil and rock samples from the Straits. Company spokesperson Ryan Duffy says the samples will help them determine how to construct the tunnel.

A sign that says "Honor the Treaties" hangs between two trees against a snowy landscape.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

 

On a chilly day in early January, the ground at Camp Anishinaabek is covered in a foot of snow, extra crusty from thawing and re-freezing. The outdoor firepit where campers gather in warmer weather is deserted, and instead, they've congregated in a dark, slightly smoky tent.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to know if a law passed during last year’s lame duck session is constitutional, and she’s enlisted new Attorney General Dana Nessel to look into the matter.

Outgoing governor Rick Snyder signed a law before leaving office. It created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority. That authority will oversee a tunnel to house a new section of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. That pipeline carries oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac.

MARK BRUSH / MICHIGAN RADIO

Geno Allessandrini of the Michigan Laborers District Council was appointed to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority on Wednesday, but resigned a day later for personal reasons.

The authority will oversee the construction and operation of a tunnel for a new oil pipeline in the straits.

 

Ari Adler, a spokesman for Governor Snyder, says the governor didn’t ask for the resignation.

 

"He did resign of his own free will, and he said that he was stepping aside for personal reasons," says Adler.

 

Today on Stateside, Michigan's lame-duck legislature moved to roll back previously-passed legislation that increased the state's minimum wage and mandated paid sick leave. Plus, a member of the Mackinac Bridge Authority weighs in on the state's plan to have the organization oversee a tunnel to house the replacement pipelines for of Enbridge's aging Line 5. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

Today on Stateside, Democratic nominee Elissa Slotkin on why she's running in Michigan's 8th Congressional District, one of the most expensive races in the country. Plus, Washtenaw County Department of Veterans Affairs director Michael Smith talks about how a shortage of qualified staff makes it harder for Michigan veterans to determine their eligibility for federal VA benefits. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

MARK BRUSH / MICHIGAN RADIO

Governor Synder says he's reached an agreement to eventually decomission and replace a controversial pipeline that runs under the straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge's Line 5 transports crude oil and natural gas liquid.

The plan is to build a multi-use utility tunnel under the Straits, with a new line inside the tunnel.

Environmental groups have been concerned about the devastating impact a spill could have on the Great Lakes.

Mike Shriberg is with the National Wildlife Federation, he says environmental groups aren't impressed with the plan.

Northland College

If caretakers of the Great Lakes aren’t careful, thirsty people from all corners of the world could come calling for our abundant supply of fresh, clean water.

So warns Peter Annin’s book “The Great Lakes Water Wars," first published in 2006.

Max Johnston

An Enbridge vice president says the company will release more information on damage to Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. A ship anchor struck the pipeline in April.

 

David Bryson, the vice president of operations at Enbridge, committed to releasing the information at a meeting hosted by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters in Traverse City Monday morning.

 

Peters pressed Bryson to be more cooperative with the state and to release video footage and pictures of the pipeline. Peters sounded surprised when Bryson agreed.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters will host a hearing Monday in Traverse City on oil spill and response efforts in the Great Lakes. The meeting will be centered around the controversial Line 5 pipeline in the straits of Mackinac.

Peters says oil spill preparedness - at both the state and federal levels - is poor.

“I don’t think they’re very prepared at all,” Peters says. “We have to do a better job of understanding how we clean up these accidents.”

Michigan's primary is two weeks away on August 7. 

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, and he joined Stateside to talk about his campaign and his plans for Michigan's future.

Has Governor Snyder's team partnered with Enbridge Energy in deciding the fate of Line 5?

That's the question explored in a joint investigation by Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Michigan’s economy would take a big hit from an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits, according to a new study.

A study by Michigan State University ecological economist Robert Richardson estimates Michigan’s economy would lose $6.3 billion if there’s a significant oil pipeline break in the Straits of Mackinac.

The study is based on a scenario where more than 2 million gallons of crude oil leaks from the Enbridge Energy Line 5 pipeline.  

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