Line 5 Pipeline Shut Down … for How Long?

Straits of Mackinac by Mark Swanson

Straits of Mackinac by Mark Swanson

EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe that the Line 5 pipeline is a ridiculous threat to Michigan’s economy & environment, am quite pleased with it being shut down, and strongly hope that it is shut down for good. Sorry if that makes you sad or upsets you. 😉

Ed White of the Associated Press writes that a judge shut down Enbridge’s controversial Line 5 energy pipeline that travels under the Straits of Mackinac on Thursday after Enbridge reported problems with a support piece far below the surface:

Enbridge Inc. has not provided enough information to Michigan officials to show that continued operation of the west leg of the Line 5 twin pipeline is safe, Ingham County Judge James Jamo said.

Without the temporary order, “the risk of harm to the Great Lakes and various communities and businesses that rely on the Great Lakes would be not only substantial but also in some respects irreparable,” the judge said.

…Enbridge’s Line 5 carries oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. A four-mile (6.4-kilometer) segment divides into two pipes that lie on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Enbridge last week said an anchor support on the east leg of the pipeline had shifted. The company said Line 5 itself was not ruptured and that no oil spilled into the water, but it still hasn’t explained how the incident occurred.

The east leg was shut down. But Enbridge said it resumed the flow through the west line Saturday after consulting with federal regulators at the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The judge said he’ll hold a hearing Tuesday on the state’s request for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, could keep Line 5 closed indefinitely.

“With the continued operation of this pipeline, the risk of severe and lasting environmental damage to Michigan’s most important natural resource continues to grow every day,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Read on for lots more. Nessel is not kidding about the potential damage to Michigan’s water from the company that devastated the Kalamazoo River back in 2010 with the largest oil spill in Michigan history. A University of Michigan researcher modeled Line 5 spill scenarios and found that more than 700 miles of shoreline in Lakes Michigan and Huron and on their islands are potentially vulnerable to an oil release in the Straits.

You can also dig into Enbridge’s take on their pipeline that carries Canadian oil through Michigan mainly to Sarnia, Ontario & the case against the LIne 5 at For Love of Water.

Mark took this photo three years ago of the Mighty Mac looking north from the Lower Peninsula across the Straits. See lots more in his Mackinac, Michigan album on Flickr.

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Pipeline deal reached … but what has changed?

Leaving the Pipeline

Leaving the Island, photo by Robert F. Carter

EDITOR’S NOTE: I agree with the position of Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action – this “plan” to fix a multi-billion dollar threat to the economic engine of the Great Lakes within seven to ten YEARS is wildly unacceptable. We don’t need the pittance we receive from this pipeline in exchange for the unimaginable risk to the lives & livelihoods of all of us in the Great Lakes State.

In Michigan, company reach oil pipeline deal by Associated Press writer John Flesher writes (in part):

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge have agreed to replace twin 65-year-old crude oil pipes in a channel linking two of the Great Lakes with another that would run through a tunnel far below the lake bed, officials told The Associated Press.

The plan calls for drilling an opening for the new pipeline through bedrock at depths that could exceed 100 feet (30 meters) beneath the Straits of Mackinac, a more than 4-mile-wide (6.4-kilometer) waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge, officials told the AP prior to an announcement scheduled for Wednesday. The massive engineering project is expected to take seven to 10 years to complete (my emphasis), at a cost of $350 million to $500 million — all of which the company would pay.

In the meantime, about 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of oil and natural gas liquids used to make propane would continue moving daily through the twin lines at the bottom of the straits. They are part of Enbridge’s Line 5, which extends 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, crossing large areas of northern Michigan.

…Environmental groups promised a fight as rumors of the agreement spread in recent days. They contend the only safe course is to reroute Enbridge’s oil away from the straits.

“Michigan gets nothing in this deal except a continued unacceptable risk to our water, while Enbridge continues to rake in massive profits and use our state as a shortcut for Canadian oil,” Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action said during a Lansing rally this week.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the next administration would have legal authority to undo the agreement. Michigan owns the straits bottomlands and granted Enbridge an easement when the pipes were laid in 1953. Creagh said any effort to revoke it would trigger a lengthy and expensive court battle.

Read on for more and follow John Flesher on Twitter @johnflesher.

View Robert’s photo bigger and see more in his My Neighborhood album.

 

Climate Hope

Beth-Wallace-Climate-Hope

Beth Wallace KXL Pipeline Protest, photo courtesy Beth Wallace/Climate Hope

I tend to keep my advocacy to myself on Michigan in Pictures, but when a friend shared the Climate Hope tumblr with me last week, I felt compelled to share it with you.

Michigan for me is defined by our water. On the heels of the disastrous million gallon oil spill on the Kalamazoo River, I feel that Michiganders have a sacred duty to protect our water today and for future generations. Climate Hope is submitting pictures shared with them as public comment by the March 7, 2014 deadline.

You can see more photo messages on Climate Hope and (if you’re so inclined) share one with them at climatehopecomments@gmail.com. If you’d like to comment directly on the Keystone pipeline, head over to www.regulations.gov.

More about the corrosive beast that is tar sands oil via the Natural Resources Defense Council.