How much risk should we take with the Great Lakes?  by guest author Rev. Deb Hansen

When it comes to Enbridge’s Line 5, a broad section of businesses, local and tribal governments, organizations, editorial boards, and faith communities across the political spectrum are saying publicly — none.  As we’ve seen with lead in Flint’s drinking water, mass water shut-offs in Detroit, and the contamination of aquifers (e.g. Antrim County, Camp Grayling, Rockford, and Plainfield Township) access to fresh water can’t be taken for granted.  That’s why support for decommissioning Enbridge’s Line 5, a 64-year-old pipeline that transports 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids through the Straits of Mackinac every day, continues to grow.

Enbridge claims Line 5 is “safe,” but no one can guarantee there will not be a repeat of the devastating spill on the Kalamazoo River.  It has recently come to light that the company withheld information for years and lied to the state about the line’s condition.  The state is in the midst of a public comment period evaluating the pipeline, however, the Governor recently surprised everyone by announcing an agreement favorable to Line 5’s on-going operation. This agreement was negotiated behind closed doors with only state officials and Enbridge present.  The Pipeline Safety Advisory Council and Michigan’s sovereign tribes with treaty rights at the Straits were not consulted.

Pipelines are the safest way to transport crude oil.   The issue here is location.  No company can guarantee their pipelines will never rupture.  The Great Lakes are an inappropriate location for transporting crude oil and Line 5 is not critical infrastructure for our state.  Only 5-10% of the oil carried by Line 5 stays in Michigan.  Canada receives the benefits; we take on the risk.

Protecting these waters for future generations is a sacred trust.  Protecting our PURE Michigan economy is in our own best interest.  Please consider joining other faith communities in calling for the decommissioning of Line 5.


Rev. Deb Hansen is a board member of Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, and spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Cheboygan and Emmet County, a member of the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign.

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