There would never be a petroleum pipeline built today that runs underwater through the Great Lakes like the controversial Line 5, Canadian petroleum transport giant Enbridge’s more than 60-year-old, parallel pipelines running through the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said.
And heavy crude oil — one of the most difficult substances to remediate if a rupture did occur, like the one in the Kalamazoo River in 2010 that led to the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history — will not be moved through Line 5, Schuette said Tuesday in releasing the findings and recommendations of a state pipeline safety task force that officials hailed as a means of protecting the environment and residents, and holding companies accountable.
But while the task force led by Schuette and state Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant called for greater scrutiny, restrictions and ongoing analysis of Line 5, environmentalists who want the pipeline shut down immediately said the state missed an opportunity to use its power to truly protect the Great Lakes and its residents by turning off the spigot.
“If you believe these existing pipelines pose an immediate threat to the Great Lakes — and we do — the task force recommendations amount to a rearranging of deck chairs on Michigan’s Titanic of oil pipelines,” said David Holtz, chairman of the Sierra Club’s Michigan chapter.
“What is needed, and needed now, is to shut down Line 5.”
The task force’s report and recommendations also failed to address issues related to Michigan’s other myriad old, eroding, natural gas pipeline networks; and the slow pace of replacement by the state’s two largest natural gas utilities, DTE Energy and Consumer’s Energy, that the Free Press first reported on in 2013.
Still, some environmentalists did credit the task force with putting the safety issues related to Line 5 and other petroleum pipelines in Michigan on the front burner — possibly setting the stage to one day stopping the flow of oil through the Straits of Mackinac.
Mike Shriberg, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, called on state officials to act with urgency on the task force’s recommendations.