Line 5 Shutdown Safeguards Great Lakes Ecosystems, Economy

Governor Gretchen Whitmer terminates public easement for Enbridge’s Line 5, which holds two 67-year-old oil pipelines rife with potential for disaster.

Today, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a temporary restraining order requiring Enbridge Energy to cease all transport operations of its Line 5. The two aging lines currently pump 23 million gallons of oil and gas a day from Superior, Wisc., to Sarnia, Ontario.

Environmental groups have for years called for the termination of the lines, which flow under the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac. The straits connect some of the world’s largest freshwater surface sources: Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Charges against Enbridge reflect multiple and unfixable violations that put the risk of immense oil and gas spillage higher than ever. A lack of protective coating and multiple issues with recent, near-disastrous freighter anchor strikes put the issue at the forefront of Whitmer’s governance.

Alternative Construction Creates Jobs, Safer Oil & Gas Transport

Efforts from groups like the National Wildlife Federation prompted the University of Michigan to research the possibilities and consequences of oil spills. UM found that the worst-case scenario could affect 150 miles of shoreline, 60% of Lake Huron’s waters, and 15% of Lake Michigan’s waters. Not only would this profoundly affect wildlife, but also the vital industries of fishing, tourism, and recreation that sustain many Midwestern locales.

“Governor Whitmer’s decision to shut down Line 5 will finally safeguard the Great Lakes and the people and wildlife who rely on them from an ecological, economic, and public health catastrophe,” said Collin O’Mara, CEO and president of the National Wildlife Federation.

“This historic decision sends a clear message that we are absolutely not willing to risk the Great Lakes and the critical role they play in America’s economy and way of life.”

It should be noted that an Enbridge-funded analysis found that creating alternatives to the pipeline will add jobs in the construction sector while creating a safer and more modern transportation system for oil and gas.

“Governor Whitmer applauds the court’s decision to issue a temporary restraining order to shut down Line 5 immediately, following severe damage to an anchor support,” Whitmer’s office said.

“Enbridge’s decision to continue pumping crude oil through the Straits of Mackinac with so many unanswered questions was reckless and unacceptable. Enbridge owes a duty to the people of Michigan and must answer to the state for how it treats our Great Lakes. The governor will continue working to keep our water safe.”

Nicole Qualtieri

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.