STRAITS OF MACKINAC, Mich. (WJMN) – 180 days ago Gov. Whitmer gave Enbridge a notice to shut down usage of Line 5, a pipeline that goes through the Straits of Mackinac. Wednesday marked the final day of that notice, but Enbridge has no plans of shutting down.
Enbridge said in a statement that, “Line 5 is operating safely, reliably and is in compliance with the law. The State of Michigan has never presented any concrete evidence to suggest otherwise. The US agency in charge of pipeline safety, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), has confirmed on multiple occasions that the pipelines are fit for service.”
The statement continued, “This matter is currently being litigated in federal court, where Enbridge will vigorously defend its right to continue to operate the pipeline. The State is arguing that its case belongs back in state court. The question of whether the State’s case belongs in federal or state court is not likely to be resolved this week. Separately, the judge responsible for the case has ordered the parties to work with a neutral mediator to explore a potential global resolution of the case. Mediation is ongoing with the next session scheduled for May 18.”
Whitmer’s decision was based on environmental issues. Because of the likeliness of an oil spill, Michigan believes that Line 5 is a violation of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act. In the Statistical Analysis of Straits of Mackinac Line 5 Worst Case Spill Scenarios by David J. Schwab, Ph.D., it was found that their main conclusion, “strongly supports the assertion that under the right weather conditions, a spill in the Straits could affect a significant amount of shoreline and open water area in either Lake Michigan or Lake Huron in a very short time.”
In the middle of the debate, there are people who say their lives depend on the health of the surrounding lakes. President of Bay Mills Indian Community Whitney Gravelle said, “Bay Mills Indian Community believes that this pipeline is dangerous, it’s obsolete, and it’s a piece of fossil fuel infrastructure that jeopardizes not only our natural resources but also our tribal treaty rights, our tribal sovereignty as well the health and safety of our tribal citizens.”
The 1836 Treaty of Washington guaranteed the Bay Mills Indian Community the right to fish, hunt, and gather within the territory. If line 5 were to damage the waters and land involved with that treaty, it would directly affect the community.
“Not only are our treaty-protected resources at risk but it’s also tied to the inter-connectedness that we as tribal nations have with the land, with the water.” Gravelle said, “More than half of the Bay Mills Indian Community relies on the fishery for some part of their annual income and that is not only jeopardizing that economy but it’s also jeopardizing our tribute community to be able to put food on the table and provide for their families.”
Whitmer says they will go through the courts to solve this issue and the state may begin to seize Enbridge’s profits.
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