On June 29, the State of Michigan released for public comment a consultant’s study on alternatives to Line 5, the risky 64-year-old dual oil pipelines that cross the lakebed of the Straits of Mackinac. The state is now holding public meetings on the study.
The study is a major disappointment and contributes little of value to the discussion on the fate of the oil pipelines operating in the Great Lakes since 1953.
FLOW’s position is unchanged: the State of Michigan must terminate the easement allowing Enbridge to use Lake Michigan’s lakebed for the pipelines. The state has the authority and the responsibility to do so to prevent a catastrophic oil spill. In light of Enbridge’s consistent record of disregard for maintenance of Line 5, the state must do so.
* FLOW rejects the alternatives study as fatally tainted by the authors’ blatant conflict of interest. The consulting firm’s vice president has an extensive history of working alongside of, and in support of, Enbridge. The state’s process is now revealed for what it always has been – a distraction from its responsibility to protect the Great Lakes by shutting down Line 5 now.
* Substantively, the alternatives study can’t be taken seriously because it:
- Completely ignores the most suitable alternative to Line 5, which is existing infrastructure. The state asked consultant Dynamic Risk to analyze it. Failure to do so skews the analysis. Since the state and consultant won’t do their jobs and analyze the existing infrastructure, FLOW will continue to analyze it by updating our 2015 independent expert report on that alternative in the near future.
- Assumes the best-case scenario for a spill. The consultant uses assumptions of risk that are woefully inadequate and are not credible. It estimates that:
- Only 20 miles of shoreline would be impacted by a spill. This is just 3% of the 720-mile area the University of Michigan found vulnerable to a spill in its 2016 study.
- An oil spill would cost $100 million to $200 million, when Enbridge’s cleanup costs for its Line 6B pipeline oil spill into the Kalamazoo River watershed in 2010 cost more than $1.2 billion.
- Inflates the impact of shutting down Line 5 to the U.P.’s propane supply. The report estimates an impact to propane supply much greater than what FLOW’s independent experts have determined would be necessary to provide the Upper Peninsula’s Rapid River facility with an alternative supply. The flawed report finds that up to 35 railcars per week or 15 truckloads per day would be necessary to replace the Line 5 supply of natural gas liquids, while FLOW’s expert studies have found it would take only one railcar or 3 – 4 truckloads per day.
FLOW is a leader in the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign uniting citizens, businesses, groups, governments, tribes, and faith communities in support of shutting down Line 5 to avoid a catastrophic Great Lakes oil spill.
Please submit your comments on the State of Michigan’s Line 5 alternatives study by August 4 by visiting the Oil & Water Don’t Mix website here: www.OilandWaterDontMix.org.