Bob's Blog Up North Blog

Line 5: A Direct Threat To Our Great Lakes

For too long, northern Michigan lived with the threat of a massive oil spill from the Line 5 pipeline. The recent revelation that at least two more ships struck the pipeline and an anchor support failed is another reason why we must shut down Line 5 immediately.

As a small business owner, I know firsthand how critical it is to protect our air, land and water. Surrounded by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, northern Michigan’s rolling sand dunes and miles of beaches create a wonderful place inspiring countless visitors from across the globe who head “Up North” to hike, swim, camp, fish or just relax. Good Morning America called Glen Arbor, my hometown and where our family business Cherry Republic is headquartered, “the Most Beautiful Place in America.” That is put at risk by Line 5.

Tourism supports thousands of local small businesses across the region. So, we’re calling on and counting on our state leaders to protect the health and economic prosperity of Michigan communities from risks that are easily foreseeable and entirely preventable, like a rupture or leak from the Line 5 pipeline. Ironically, Michigan does not rely heavily on Line 5 to meet our energy needs. We rely on the Great Lakes as the backbone of our culture, economy and identity.

The underwater tunnel Enbridge proposed isn’t an acceptable or responsible alternative and raises additional concerns regarding ecological damage from construction, the financial feasibility and the intent to lock us into many more decades of fossil fuel reliance. State leadership must move to clean and renewable energy sources that will diversify Michigan’s energy portfolio, build resiliency and reduce harmful emissions known to accelerate impacts of climate change rather than invest in more risky tunnels or pipelines.

The recent dam failure in Midland exemplifies what can happen when we allow aging energy infrastructure to be operated by a big oil company beyond its designed lifespan.

Line 5 — designed for a 50-year lifespan — is still operating after 67 years and shows many signs of decay, causing urgent concern for potential failure and the economic and ecological disruption that would ensue. Every day, this pipeline gets older and the risk of a major environmental catastrophe increases.

Attorney General Dana Nessel was granted a Temporary Restraining Order that effectively shuts down the pipeline until Enbridge conducts an in-line inspection and complies with the state’s request for data backing their dubious claim that the line was fit to resume operation. I applaud the attorney general’s swift and strong response to protecting the Great Lakes.

I also join other business leaders from the Great Lakes Business Network in calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to take immediate action to permanently protect the Great Lakes from the dangerous and risky Line 5 pipeline.

Whether it’s hidden corrosion, a freighter’s anchor or the extremely strong currents of the Straits of Mackinac, the location of this pipeline has proven to be too great a risk to the Great Lakes.

Gov. Whitmer, the time to act is now. It’s time to stand up for clean water, our economy and our people. An aging, deteriorating pipeline under the Great Lakes is a ticking time bomb for northern Michigan and the entire Great Lakes region.