Protesters temporarily shut down controversial Line 5 pipeline

Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5, which runs through the Straits of Mackinac, has spilled more than 1 million gallons of fossil fuels into waters since 1968, according to researchers. - JEFFNESS, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Jeffness, Wikimedia Commons
Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5, which runs through the Straits of Mackinac, has spilled more than 1 million gallons of fossil fuels into waters since 1968, according to researchers.

The controversial Line 5 pipeline was temporarily shut down on Tuesday after protesters entered Enbridge property in Tuscola County and closed an emergency shutoff valve.

Enbridge said it temporarily halted the flow of oil and natural gas liquids after protesters alerted the company about its plans to turn the emergency valve.

The company, which is responsible for a disastrous oil spill in the Kalamazoo River in July 2010, has defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order to shut down the pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac in May. Saying the company violated a 1953 easement agreement with the state, Whitmer warned that the pipeline presents “an extraordinary and unacceptable risk to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.”

Resist Line 3 Media Collective, a group opposed to the pipeline, posted video on social media showing a masked, helmeted protester using a plumber’s wrench to turn the emergency valve inside a fenced-in area. A guitarist from Only Luck Once performed during the direct action in front of a sign that read, “Water is life.”

"I know my life is in danger from the risk of a spill and from the contributions to climate change,” the anonymous valve turner said, according to a tweet from Resist Line 3.

For nearly a decade, Indigenous leaders, environmental activists, and scientists have warned about the potential for an oil spill from Line 5, which ships 540,000 barrels a day of crude and refined products from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. Tribal governments and environmental groups have sought legal injunctions to shut down the pipeline.

The state said Enbridge had violated its easement after underwater photos revealed that parts of the dual pipelines were not anchored as required.

In a lawsuit, the state asked an Ingham County Circuit Court to recognize the validity of Whitmer’s order to shut down the pipeline based on the alleged easement violation. Enbridge successfully moved the case to federal court, and the state has filed a motion to remand the case back to Ingham County.

The Great Lakes are home to 21% of the world's fresh surface water and supply drinking water to 48 million people, including 5 million Michigan residents.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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