2016-12-08 / News

Pressure Increases for Action on Line 5, the Sierra Club Says

A federal decision Sunday to halt work on the Dakota Access Pipeline, called for by protestors, means there is more pressure on Michigan officials to shut down the flow of oil through Enbridge Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, said the Sierra Club and other advocates Monday, December 5. In both places, advocates have cited concerns about the potential for environmental contamination related to the oil pipelines.

Among those calling for shutting the line down is Aaron Payment, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians chairperson.

“Line 5 is going to be decommissioned,” said Mr. Payment. “The only question is whether it happens before the pipeline ruptures in the Straits, or after it ruptures — leaving us with a catastrophe that will devastate our way of life.”

Like Enbridge’s Line 5 in Michigan, the Dakota Access Pipeline was slated to cross through a critically important waterway that is a drinking water source. In Michigan, the waterway is the Great Lakes. The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is one of five tribes with federally recognized sovereign rights in the region. Eleven tribal organizations and 61 Michigan counties, cities, and townships have passed resolutions calling for the state to stop the flow of oil through the Straits.

“The State of Michigan’s fiduciary role to protect our public waters is analogous to the federal government’s trustee role to protect sovereign tribal rights. They are paramount to private interests like Enbridge,” said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of For Love of Water. “The State and the Army Corps must conduct a comprehensive review of Line 5 and explore alternative routes now, because of failing pipeline supports. Waiting another year for the state’s advisory board to complete its studies does not comply with the law.”

Since June 2014, the state has been studying Line 5.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is pursuing a common-sense strategy to protect drinking water in North Dakota that should immediately be embraced by Michigan’s governor and attorney general,” said David Holtz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair. “Gov. [Rick] Snyder and Attorney General [Bill] Schuette need to end years of dilly dallying and strongly embrace shutting down Line 5 in the Straits as the only alternative for protecting the Great Lakes and our drinking water.”

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