Traverse City, Mich.—Today, September 25, 2023, FLOW (For Love of Water) filed a motion with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the 2019 state lawsuit Attorney General Dana Nessel v. Enbridge, requesting the federal appeals court to accept an amicus brief that articulates why this case should be remanded back to state court where it belongs.
Built in 1953, Line 5 is a 70-year-old oil pipeline operating in fierce currents on the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. The underwater pipeline has been repeatedly struck by ship’s anchors, and cables dragged by passing vessels have damaged the pipeline and its supports. Line 5 is uniquely vulnerable to multiple impacts that could result in irreversible environmental harm and billions of dollars of damage to the Great Lakes regional economy.
Three years after the Attorney General filed the 2019 state lawsuit, Enbridge in a procedural tactic removed the case to the federal district court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The federal district court refused to remand the case back to state court. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals accepted Attorney General Nessel’s request to appeal the district court’s ruling in July, and has directed the Attorney General and Enbridge to submit legal arguments on whether to remand the case back to state court in Michigan.
The waters and bottomlands are sovereign public trust resources held by the State of Michigan in trust for the benefit of the citizens of Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Long-standing legal principles that balance federal and state interests weigh in favor states’ rights and jurisdiction over public navigable waters and bottomlands.
As an advocacy organization committed to protection of the precious state sovereign water resources, FLOW has requested permission to file a “friend of the court” brief, technically called an amicus brief, to provide the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals our unique perspective regarding its knowledge and experience of Michigan and Great Lakes states’ sovereign ownership of public lands and water resources under the public trust doctrine. State courts are the sworn guardians with a responsibility to protect the public’s rights in and uses of navigable waters and submerged lands throughout the Great Lakes region. Our shared waters are a public trust, and it is the duty of our state governments to act as stewards of this trust, ensuring that the interests of current and future generations are safeguarded.
But for the State of Michigan’s conditional authorization under public trust law, Line 5 could not have been built on the bottomlands of Lake Michigan in the Straits of Mackinac. When the state granted an easement to Enbridge’s predecessor 70 years ago, it was subject to the perpetual duty and right of the state to assure the public trust in the Great Lakes is never impaired. The easement was never properly authorized, and in any event, is subject to revocation and termination when the public trust waters and natural resources are threatened with risks of devastating harm. In the absence of that authorization and in the face of this extraordinary risk, Line 5 can not continue to operate.
The Great Lakes Business Network (GLBN) alongside 60 Tribes and First Nations have filed two additional amici briefs supporting the Attorney General’s request to remand the Line 5 public trust case back to state court.
The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) is a three-member panel that is responsible for overseeing Enbridge’s proposed pipeline tunnel project under the busy, environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac, pending all applicable permits and approvals.
In June 2023, FLOW submitted public comments to the MSCA, to help further public understanding of the purpose, need, and challenges associated with the present status of the tunnel project. For each question, FLOW has provided background information in order to contextualize the questions and illustrate the importance of providing critical project information so that stakeholders can be better informed.
Every day, Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline carries nearly 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the oil sand fields in western Canada to refineries in Ontario, using the Straits of Mackinac as a high-risk shortcut. In FLOW’s new, updated Line 5 Fact Sheet, you’ll learn the latest on the pipeline, why the tunnel is a dangerous proposition, and what you can do to help get oil out of the Great Lakes.
“The US Army Corps of Engineers decision to exclude the cumulative impacts of the fossil fuels Line 5 will transport, climate concerns, and, remarkably, engineering concerns raised by experts as to the integrity of the tunnel, flies in the face of the Corps’ purpose and mission, the Biden Administration’s goals and policy, and public concern for the protection of Great Lakes waters.” – Liz Kirkwood, FLOW Executive Director
This week marks the unlucky 13th anniversary of one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history. On July 25, 2010, a pipeline operated by Enbridge – the same corporation operating the risky Line 5 in the Strait of Mackinac – burst and released dirty tar sands oil into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. Nearly forty miles of the Kalamazoo River were closed for cleanup until June 2012. Enbridge paid more than $177 million in penalties and was required to improve safety measures. The estimated cost of the cleanup was more than $1 billion.
Corrosion fatigue – poor maintenance by Enbridge – was cited as the underlying cause of the catastrophic breach by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman compared Enbridge’s inept handling of the spill to the Keystone Kops.
“Why didn’t they recognize what was happening, and what took so long?” she asked.
Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline is over 70 years old and remains a threat to the waters and people of the Great Lakes region.
On Wednesday, July 19 2023, FLOW and Oil & Water Don’t Mix presented a special live webinar, featuring a panel of experts on how Michigan, Wisconsin, and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are working together in the courts to shut down Line 5 and bring an end to Enbridge’s trespass on state, sovereign, and indigenous lands. We also discussed smart pipeline alternatives, how organizations are working to avert an oil spill disaster, and answered audience questions.
Our expert panel:
Riyaz Kanji, founding member and Directing Attorney of Kanji & Katzen and attorney for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Christopher Clark, Supervising Senior Attorney, Earthjustice – representing Bay Mills Indian Community
Sean McBrearty, Campaign Coordinator, Oil & Water Don’t Mix and Legislative and Policy Director at Michigan Clean Water Action
We’re pleased to announce an outstanding panel of experts for the webinar:
Riyaz Kanji, Founding Member and Directing Attorney, Kanji & Katzen
Riyaz Kanji is a founding member of Kanji & Katzen, PLLC, a firm whose mission is to advance Tribal sovereignty. A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale Law School, Riyaz served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Betty Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court. He is an advisor to and vocal cheerleader for the Tribal Supreme Court Project. Riyaz represents Tribes at all levels of the federal court system, and was part of the team that argued and won the decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma vindicating the continued existence of the Muscogee Creek Reservation.
Christopher Clark, Supervising Senior Attorney, Earthjustice, Chicago
Christopher joined Earthjustice’s Midwest regional program in January 2020. He works with the Chicago-based team to advance the organization’s mission throughout the region. Earthjustice, in collaboration with the Native American Rights Fund, currently represents the Bay Mills Indian Community in its advocacy and litigation efforts involving the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.
Prior to joining Earthjustice, Christopher worked for over a decade as senior counsel and then Midwest Regional Director for Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest LGBTQ legal rights organization. In that capacity, Christopher successfully argued cases before five different state supreme courts in the Midwest region.
Christopher obtained his undergraduate degree in Public and International Affairs form Princeton University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. He lives in Chicago with his husband, Victor where they own an art gallery.
Sean McBrearty, Legislative and Policy Director, Clean Water Action
Sean McBrearty is the Campaign Coordinator for the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign and Legislative and Policy Director at Michigan Clean Water Action, where he works on water infrastructure, oil and gas, and drinking water issues. Mr. McBrearty has served as a leader in the campaign to decommission Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline for the past six years. He learned the importance of protecting drinking water and our environment from a young age, growing up in a community devastated by perennial droughts and poor water and air quality in California’s Central Valley.
Editor’s note: The following is a press statement from Zach Welcker, Legal Director of FLOW (For Love of Water), the Great Lakes law and policy center based in Traverse City, Michigan, in response to a federal district court’s certification on Tuesday of questions for interlocutory review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The decision comes in the case of Nessel v. Enbridge, filed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on June 27, 2019, in the Michigan Circuit Court for the County of Ingham, to shut down the Line 5 oil pipelines in the Great Lakes. Members of the media can reach Zach Welcker, FLOW Legal Director, atZach@flowforwater.orgor by cell at 231.620.7911.
“This is a welcome development in Attorney General Dana Nessel’s effort to return to state court her state-law claims seeking the shutdown of Enbridge’s dual oil pipelines on state-owned bottomlands in the Straits of Mackinac. FLOW credits her petition for mandamus—filed just two business days before the certification order—for prompting the federal district court to finally take action on a motion that the Attorney General filed more than five months ago.
“Although the district court’s order does not guarantee that the Sixth Circuit will agree to resolve the certified questions, we are hopeful that the Court will recognize that interlocutory review is necessary to protect the fundamental state rights that are undermined by the district court’s erroneous procedural and jurisdictional rulings.
“The Attorney General’s extraordinary efforts to obtain appellate review before the right is available via direct appeal is a testament to her commitment to protect the Great Lakes—and our public rights to use and enjoy them—from being impaired by Enbridge, the same company that is responsible for the Kalamazoo River oil-spill disaster,” said FLOW Legal Director Zach Welcker
“The Attorney General’s extraordinary efforts to obtain appellate review before the right is available via direct appeal is a testament to her commitment to protect the Great Lakes—and our public rights to use and enjoy them—from being impaired by Enbridge, the same company that is responsible for the Kalamazoo River oil-spill disaster.”
Above: A burst of sunshine and Lake Michigan’s power at the shore in Frankfort, Michigan. (Photo/Kelly Thayer)
Michigan’s water bounty is vast—touching four of the five Great Lakes, more than 10,000 inland lakes, 36,000 river miles, 6 million acres of wetlands, and groundwater that is the drinking water source for more than 4 million Michiganders.
At FLOW, we envision a future where healthy waters sustain healthy communities in the Great Lakes Basin, and together with our supporters and partners, we are bringing that vision to life.
Such an abundant heritage requires protection from a host of threats, and creative thinking about opportunities to keep water public and protected. These, in turn, require vision. At FLOW, we envision a future where healthy waters sustain healthy communities in the Great Lakes Basin, and together with our supporters and partners in 2022, we are bringing that vision to life.
The clear waters of Great Sand Bay on Lake Superior north of Eagle River, Michigan, on the Keweenaw Peninsula. (Photo/Kelly Thayer)
The view Michiganders enjoy of expansive, seemingly infinite Great Lakes waters is mirrored in our work, which spans all of Michigan’s public waters and includes all beings who depend on them. FLOW protects the Great Lakes—and our public trust rights to access, swim, drink, fish, and navigate these magnificent fresh waters—from threats that include climate change and the Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac, while strengthening protection of our vital groundwater and securing clean water for all.
In 2022, FLOW’s sustained efforts to ensure safe, clean, affordable, and public water for all resulted in measurable, immediate achievements, as well as in steps toward long-term goals. Here’s a summary of the impact, as well as hope for an even better 2023 in the fight to protect 20 percent of the planet’s fresh surface water and a way of life for all of us who depend on it for our well being.
Line 5: Preventing a Petroleum Disaster in the Great Lakes
The continued presence of Enbridge’s nearly 70-year-old Line 5 petroleum pipelines crossing in the Straits of Mackinac is a navigational hazard and a clear danger to the Great Lakes, communities, tribes, and businesses. The dented and decaying pipeline is owned and operated by Enbridge, the same Canadian corporation responsible for the 2010 spill of more than 1.2 million gallons of heavy tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River watershed near Marshall, Michigan.
Line 5 shown in red runs from Superior, Wisc., to Sarnia, Ont., as part of Enbridge’s larger pipeline network in yellow running the Alberta, Canada, tar sands to Montreal.
The nearly 70-year-old Line 5 petroleum pipeline crossing in the Straits of Mackinac is a navigational hazard and a clear danger to the Great Lakes, communities, tribes, and businesses.
The State of Michigan and the public, however, must remain vigilant until the oil stops flowing for good because Enbridge is defying the shutdown order, and Line 5 remains exposed to exceptionally strong currents, lakebed scouring, new anchor and cable strikes, and corrosion. At the same time, Enbridge is seeking permission to locate a tunnel to carry the petroleum under the Straits, posing another set of unacceptable risks.
In 2022, to shut down Line 5 and stop the ill-advised oil tunnel, FLOW:
Spurred Public Engagement & Comment—Spurred, as a founding steering committee member of Oil & Water Don’t Mix, vigorous public engagement and public comment last fall as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers review of the proposed oil tunnel; and FLOW also prepared final comments submitted to the federal agency on October 14.
Hosted a Line 5 Livestream—Co-hosted, in partnership with Oil & Water Don’t Mix and the Bay Mills Indian Community, a July livestream event on the status of the Line 5 struggle that drew nearly 600 registrants and reached thousands more people through social media and our e-newsletter.
Groundwater: Strengthening Protection of Our Sixth Great Lake
FLOW’s 2022 report—Building Consensus: Securing Protection of Michigan’s Groundwater.
The volume of groundwater in the Great Lakes Basin is comparable to the volume of Lake Huron—in essence, it’s the sixth Great Lake. Groundwater supports industry and agriculture, recharges our streams and the Great Lakes, and provides drinking water to millions of people.
But because it is out of sight, and therefore often out of mind, groundwater is the least protected arc of that cycle. Limited protections and underinvestment in monitoring have allowed contamination to plague groundwater in tens of thousands of locations in Michigan. Since 2018, FLOW has advanced groundwater as a top priority, bringing new attention and momentum to its stewardship.
One of the biggest threats to Michigan’s groundwater is 130,000 failing septic systems. They pollute groundwater with pathogens and household toxic materials, yet Michigan is the only state lacking statewide requirements for inspection, maintenance, and replacement of failing septic systems. FLOW and our partners are striving to remedy that unacceptable fact.
In 2022, to protect groundwater, FLOW helped lead the way with these actions:
Helped Pass a Countywide Septic Ordinance—Helped in August to persuade the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners, in northwest Michigan, to enact a countywide ordinance preventing and defending against septic system pollution of groundwater.
Published a New Groundwater Report—Released in June, as the culmination of 15 months of work, our report, Building Consensus: Securing Protection of Michigan’s Groundwater, and accompanying story map. The report expresses the consensus of multiple stakeholders critical to the state policy process that the state must do more to gather and analyze data fostering an understanding of the condition of groundwater. Key recommendations from the report have helped to form FLOW’s 2023 groundwater policy agenda.
Hosted a Groundwater Livestream—Hosted a livestreamin March featuring FLOW staff and five partners, including State Rep. Padma Kuppa and experts on groundwater from academia, the scientific community, and the state. In all, 180 people registered for the event, which offered perspectives on the critical importance of our groundwater resources and the work of the Michigan Groundwater Table convened by FLOW.
Collaborated on a World Water Day Resolution—Worked with Rep. Kuppa on a World Water Day resolution that was adopted by Michigan’s State House of Representatives.
Guided Water Infrastructure Funding—Engaged last spring with national, regional, state, and local partners, to determine the most impactful policy interventions to ensure the equitable distribution of state and federal funds for water infrastructure, including a $35 million appropriation to help address failing septic systems.
Clean Water for All: Keeping Water Public and Protected
Access to clean water for all is a human right and even more vital during emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, household water shutoffs in Detroit and elsewhere, and the Flint lead-tainted water crisis. The cost of inaction and the failure to fund public water infrastructure continues to result in water insecurity, flooding, pollution, and costly patchwork repair.
Access to clean water for all is a human right and even more vital during emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, household water shutoffs in Detroit and elsewhere, and the Flint lead-tainted water crisis.
In 2022, to ensure equitable funding for public water systems and to prioritize water access and affordability, FLOW:
Helped Advance Public Water, Public Justice in New York—Worked with New York State lawmakers in support of the newly introduced Public Water Justice Act, based on FLOW’s groundbreaking 2018 model legislation to extend public trust protection to groundwater, establish a royalty and public justice trust fund from bottled water companies, and pay for water infrastructure priorities.
Supported Equity in Water Infrastructure Funding—Engaged statewide with Michigan lawmakers and the Whitmer administration on legislative and other proposals to equitably distribute an historic, short-term increase in federal funds for water infrastructure.
Participated in an Environmental Justice Livestream—Presented at an Environmental Justice livestream event hosted by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in March.
Hosted a Livestream with Maude Barlow—Hosted a livestream event in June with lifelong and world-renowned champion of water, Maude Barlow, who has written a memoir built on her career of activism. Its title, appropriately, is Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism. In the book, Barlow vividly details her work on many issues, perhaps most importantly her successful advocacy of water as a human right.
In March, FLOW supported the introduction of three related public trust bills on groundwater, bottled water, and natural resources.
Supported Public Trust Bills in Michigan—Supported in March the introduction of three related public trust bills to expand public trust protections to groundwater, end the bottled water loophole of the Great Lakes Compact in Michigan, and direct the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to be strong public trustee stewards.
Collaborated on a Public Trust Resolution—Worked with state lawmakers to declare water as a public trust in a World Water Day resolution.
Upheld the Human Right to Water & Sanitation—Continued our efforts to build upon the successful passage of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation Resolution in Traverse City. Promoted statewide and regional engagement on this resolution work with We the People, Michigan Municipal League (MML), Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
Drafted a Model Ordinance on Green Infrastructure—Drafted a model green infrastructure ordinance that would require municipalities to evaluate the economic and environmental effectiveness of green infrastructure alternatives—assisted by MML, SEMCOG, and City of Grand Rapids.
Advanced Green Infrastructure in Communities—Continued to work with Traverse City and Marquette on advancing green infrastructure as part of their new master plans to benefit the environment and save taxpayer dollars.
FLOW’s Commitment: Lifting Up Young Leaders on Water Protection
FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood
Too often we hear that members of Generation Z, those born between 1997-2012, mistrust government, worry about the future of democracies, and feel overwhelmed by the weighty burden of climate change they are inheriting. But from the depths rise the leaders of tomorrow—our beacon of hope.
“Protecting our precious waters is a multigenerational mission,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood.
“Protecting our precious waters is a multigenerational mission,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood. “We put that mission into practice not only by pursuing solutions to water problems that will pay off for generations to come, but also by engaging young people who will carry forward the work as part of a rising generation.”
In 2022, to lift up the youth water movement, FLOW was proud to engage with:
Lucy Jones enjoys a Lake Michigan sunset.
Water&—Bebe Schaefer and Rachel Roberts, two students at American University in Washington, D.C., recently launched the nonprofit organization Water&, on a “constant journey of collective action.” We at FLOW were thrilled to join hands with Water& and other young adult-led organizations in the Great Lakes Basin, and in our nation’s capital, to expand hope and leadership in the protection of our public waters.
Mackenzie Joseph—Our highly productive summer 2022 Milliken Intern for Communications was Mackenzie Joseph, a native of Johnstown, Ohio, and rising senior at Ohio University in Athens, who is majoring in Communication Studies with minors in History, English, Writing, and Political Communication.
Mary Basso and Irene Namae—Our ambitious and talented summer 2022 Milliken Interns for Law and Policy were Mary Basso and Irene Namae. Irene was born in Uganda; after finishing a Bachelor of Law there from Makerere University, she served as a magistrate judge. She currently is pursuing her PhD in law at the University of Arizona, focusing on Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy. Mary Basso is from Owosso, Michigan. After finishing a bachelor’s degree, Mary moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to study law at Vanderbilt University Law School.
Lucy Jones—When FLOW first wrote about Lucy Jones—the inspiring Traverse City teen who creates and sells jewelry to benefit the Great Lakes—last February, our supporters were moved by her environmental ethic and enterprising spirit. So we thought it was fitting to catch up with Lucy at year’s end with her holiday sales in full swing. FLOW thrives on these creative collaborations with teens and young adults—the Next Generation—who take action and lead the way to protect fresh water.
Looking to 2023: Abundant Opportunity to Protect Fresh Water for All
Now comes the next phase of the work that we all must do together: Hold our elected officials accountable to ensure the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are healthy, public, and protected for all. As the Great Lakes State, Michigan must lead on every imaginable freshwater policy to protect this fragile, water-rich ecosystem and to secure safe, affordable drinking water for all.
“Big, bold ideas for a vibrant future vision are necessary to generate public engagement and support. So if there ever was a moment, this would be it,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood.
“Michigan must seize this window of opportunity to think about systemic changes needed and make the greatest gains we can to protect fresh water, the environment, Pure Michigan economy, and our way of life in the face of impacts from unrelenting climate change and a water-scarce world,” said Kirkwood. “Big, bold ideas for a vibrant future vision are necessary to generate public engagement and support. So if there ever was a moment, this would be it.”
For Love of Water (“FLOW”) submitted legal and technical comments before today’s deadline in response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Notice of Intent to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Enbridge’s proposal to bore and blast a 20-foot-in-diameter tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, just west of the Mackinac Bridge, to house a new Line 5 oil pipeline for another 99 years.
Zack Welcker, FLOW Legal Director
The public can still comment on the proposed oil tunnel in the Great Lakes by 11:59 p.m. EDT today (Oct. 14, 2022) on the Army Corps’ project website.
The public can still comment on the proposed oil tunnel in the Great Lakes by 11:59 p.m. EDT today (Oct. 14, 2022) on the Army Corps’ project website. The Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign, of which FLOW is a founding steering committee member, also is collecting and forwarding comments to the Army Corps using an email template that suggests key points to make. FLOW’s tunnel comment also provides critical elements to convey.
FLOW urged the Army Corps to broaden the scope of its analysis to ensure that all regional alternatives are fully considered in an effort to meet regional fossil-fuel energy demands, which are forecasted to dwindle in the ongoing transition to clean energy, while maximizing protection of the Great Lakes and combating climate change.
Enbridge’s proposed Line 5 oil tunnel is not a viable alternative given the forecasted dwindling demand for fossil fuels and the need to maximize protection of the Great Lakes and combat climate change.
In FLOW’s view, Enbridge’s proposed Line 5 oil tunnel is not a viable alternative to meet these regional objectives when viewed in light of all relevant facts. FLOW anticipates that the manifold risks of the tunnel proposal will continue to grow as Enbridge begins to fill data gaps related to geologic conditions, construction challenges, and worker safety.
FLOW Raises Concerns about Risk to Great Lakes, Lack of Public Need, and Information Gaps
FLOW’s comments to the Army Corps include an emphasis on the:
Line 5 Pipeline Risk—FLOW opposes tethering the shutdown of the existing dual Line 5 pipelines to a tunnel project that will not resolve underlying the environmental and cultural concerns about siting a major oil pipeline in the middle of America’s greatest surface freshwater resource.
A diver points to broken straps along an encrusted segment of Line 5 on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.
Lack of Information—The public is deeply concerned about the risk of a catastrophic tunnel explosion, the economic feasibility and environmental impacts of constructing the tunnel, and the long-term climate impacts of the tunnel proposal. The public needs more information than Enbridge has provided to understand the risks and benefits.
The public is deeply concerned about the risk of a catastrophic tunnel explosion, the economic feasibility and environmental impacts of constructing the tunnel, and the long-term climate impacts of the tunnel proposal.
Lack of Public Need—As Enbridge implicitly concedes, there is no long-term public need for the proposed tunnel from an energy standpoint, and it would undermine federal greenhouse-gas reduction policies. Enbridge’s own expert has determined that a Line 5 shutdown would have a de minimis impact on fuel prices.
Overly Narrow Focus—Regionalizing the Purpose and Need Statement in the Army Corps study is warranted because Enbridge’s 645-mile Line 5 pipeline is almost 70 years old and past the end of its projected operational life. As Line 5 would need a systemic makeover to keep operating for another 99 years, Enbridge’s proposed tunnel should not be segmented and evaluated in isolation from the entire operation.
Line 5 shown in red runs from Superior, Wisc., to Sarnia, Ont., as part of Enbridge’s larger pipeline network in yellow running from the Alberta, Canada, tar sands to Montreal.
Line 5 pipeline is almost 70 years old and past the end of its projected operational life.
Strong Public Interest in Great Lakes Protection—The Army Corps’ Purpose and Need Statement in the Notice of Intent is also deficient for lack of recognition of the public interest in protecting the Great Lakes in the face of global water shortages, chronic drought in the United States, and other costly impacts from climate change. Protection of the largest and most valuable surface freshwater system in the world is an economic and environmental imperative. The Great Lakes contain 84% of North America’s fresh surface water and are the cultural backbone for eight states, two provinces, and multiple tribes and First Nations.
FLOW cited lack of recognition of the public interest in protecting the Great Lakes in the face of global water shortages, chronic drought in the United States, and other costly impacts from climate change.
Army Corps Should Consider a Range of Reasonable Alternatives
In order to meet the objectives of a Purpose and Need Statement that focuses on the connection between Enbridge’s Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario, terminals and gives primacy to the public’s interest in maximizing protection of the Great Lakes, the Army Corps should, at a minimum, consider the following alternatives:
Tar sand oil production, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Environmental Defence Canada.
An alternative to connect Enbridge’s Superior and Sarnia terminals without crossing the Great Lakes.
An alternative to use existing capacity in other pipelines and, if necessary, other transportations solutions–such as rail and truck transport of natural gas liquids–in lieu of building new pipeline infrastructure.
A tunnel alternative that fully eliminates the risk of oil intrusion into the Straits of Mackinac in the event of an explosion or similar event.
A “no action” alternative.
Protection of the largest and most valuable surface freshwater system in the world is an economic and environmental imperative. The Great Lakes contain 84% of North America’s fresh surface water and are the cultural backbone for eight states, two provinces, and multiple tribes and First Nations.
The Army Corps’ analysis of “energy need” should result in a determination that Enbridge’s proposed tunnel is contrary to the public interest. The confluence of future demand-side constraints, including the electrification of transportation, disinvestment in Albertan oil production, North American and global prohibitions on the sale and use of internal combustion engine vehicles, and governmental efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating the transition to a global clean energy economy. These forces driving change are being embraced by public and private interests and represent future trends that will bring measurable economic, environmental, and social benefits. The confluence of these market forces militates against future large-scale investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.