Climate Movement Monday: Line 5 crude oil pipeline

Welcome back to another Movement Mondays post in which I highlight a climate-related issue and the frontline community directly affected, and offer ways to take action on behalf of that community. Today’s post is about Line 5, a crude oil pipeline built in 1953 during the Eisenhower administration by the Bechtel Corporation and now operated by Enbridge Inc.

Per Oil and Water Don’t Mix: “Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 645-mile petroleum pipeline that is part of the larger Enbridge Lakehead System. Line 5 carries oil from Superior, Wisconsin, across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, through northern Michigan, down to the thumb region, and under the St. Clair River to Sarnia, Ontario. Along the way, the pipeline crosses through the Straits of Mackinac, 400 rivers, streams, and wetlands. In northern Michigan, it goes through almost 10 miles of wetlands and runs right next to many of our sparkling inland lakes.”

A diver working on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation inspects the Line 5 pipeline at the lake bottom in the Straits of Mackinac during a July 2013 dive.

Water is needed to sustain life–all life requires it–and it’s insanity to expect 70-year-old corroded pipes to safely carry over a half a million barrels (equivalent to 22 million gallons) of oil and natural gas liquids every single day. To make matters even worse, Line 5 cuts across Tribal lands, including the Bad River Reservation, threatening wild lands, wetlands, and connecting rivers and streams. From the Sierra Club: “The Straits of Mackinac are a series of waterways linking Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. Not only do these lakes supply drinking water to millions of inhabitants and support the region’s recreation and fishing sectors, but they also provide habitats for numerous species of plants and animals. A spill here would be catastrophic. According to University of Michigan hydrologist Dave Schwab, the Straits of Mackinac would be “the worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.” Compared to other nearby regions, the complex currents here are particularly strong and shift directions frequently — meaning oil would disperse rapidly and spread across great distances.” 

Line 5 has already spilled more than 1 million gallons over the past 50 years. Per an email from Earthjustice: “In 2019, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge for trespassing on their reservation in Wisconsin. And two years ago, the State of Michigan ordered Line 5 to stop operating – yet Enbridge continues to operate its pipeline in defiance of that order.”

Line 5 must be shut down. Instead, Enbridge is trying to work around the legal challenge by rerouting Line 5. CONFESSION: I am new to this issue and am struggling to understand the ins and outs, but one thing I know for sure: underwater, corroded crude oil pipelines must be shut down! Biden has the power to do just that. And seeing as how Biden (“the climate president”) is rapidly accelerating the climate crisis with authorization of the Willow Project, the Gulf of Mexico lease sales, the export of liquified natural gas (LNG) in Alaska, and the export of LNG in Texas, he at minimum must shut down Line 5.

PLEASE, take a moment to personalize this letter to Biden and demand he start using his power for good rather than environmental evil. Remember: you don’t need to be long-winded in your letter. Just let him know you want Line 5 shut down! And if you can get a friend or two to also send a letter, that would be awesome!

I love hearing from readers about these climate issues–your thoughts and actions–and hope you share here. Solidarity! ✊🏽


5 thoughts on “Climate Movement Monday: Line 5 crude oil pipeline

  1. Michigan is my home state, so this issue is especially meaningful to me. In fact, I used to live just an hour away from the Straits of Mackinac. I could hardly believe it the first time someone told me that there was an oil pipeline under the water there! Michigan is beautiful, and this could be such a tragedy, especially when you consider the drinking water!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did not know you hailed from Michigan, Becky. And to live so close to the gorgeous Straits of Mackinac, knowing there’s a pipeline running below the surface. What an awful fact for you to learn. It makes zero sense to put drinking water and that environment at risk this way and I hope, hope, hope Biden does the right thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Climate Movement Monday: in support of Kalamazoo, MI | Tracy Abell

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