Action to help prevent anchor strikes, protect Great Lakes

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer took actions today to protect Michigan’s Great Lakes by directing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to proactively file an emergency rule which will help prevent anchor strikes against Line 5 or other lines that pass through the Straits of Mackinac.

“Preserving our Great Lakes is a top priority for our state,” Whitmer said. “I remain committed to getting the oil out of the water as quickly as possible, but in the meantime, these preventative actions will help to protect our most significant ecological and economic resource.”

This emergency rule will require large vessels to verify no anchors are dragging before passing through the Straits. This rule will address issues that emerged in April of 2018, when an anchor dragged unawares by a vessel, struck and damaged the pipeline.  

The rule can be filed because of MCL. 24.248 which says that if the governor and an agency find that the preservation of the public health, safety, or welfare requires an emergency rule, the agency may dispense with all or part of the procedures and file a rule. To provide extra protection for the Great Lakes, a formal request has also been made to the U.S. Coast Guard to create a similar rule for all foreign vessels, which lie beyond state authority.

Attorney General Dana Nessel expressed her strong support today for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s call for an emergency rule to help prevent anchor strikes, saying:

“I give the Governor a tremendous amount of credit for taking the initiative to protect the Straits of Mackinac and the entire Great Lakes against anchor strikes that could damage Line 5 or any of the other lines passing through the Straits.  This issue is of grave concern to me as my office only recently learned of several additional anchor strikes that have occurred on other lines in the Straits.  The potential for damage from a loose anchor strike against the aging Line 5 infrastructure could be catastrophic for years to come.  This is an essential but interim measure as we find a long-term solution to permanently shut down Line 5.”

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