When the first, highly contested leg of the Line 5 pipeline was originally built in 1953, it was meant to withstand 50 years of use. But that was 70 years ago –  and not only has the pipeline been neglected for maintenance but it actively poses a threat to the community around it.

Every day nearly 23 million gallons of oil flow through these aging pipelines located in the heart of the Great Lakes, threatening one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the world and drinking water for 40 million people 

The Straits of Mackinac serves as a major cultural resource for The Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC), who have lived along this waterway for centuries. The Straits is a fragile waterway ecosystem that provide access to important foods, medicinal plants, sacred burial sites, and other cultural traditions.1

The health and safety of the Great Lakes communities have been at consistent risk to the frequent oil spills in nearby waterways. The Army Corps is currently accepting public comments on Line 5’s proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. We need to use this comment period as an opportunity to ensure that Line 5 receives the thorough review it requires and, ultimately, gets shut down. 

Submit your comment by October 14!

Tell the Army Corps to protect the Great Lakes and reject the dangerous tunneling expansion of Line 5.

In November 2020, Governor Whitmer revoked Enbridge’s right to operate Line 5 statewide due to their consistent violation of terms. Throughout the following year, the oil industry led by parent company Enbridge, ran propaganda ads falsely claiming the shutdown was the cause of the rapidly rising gas prices in Michigan. Federal court documents last month showed that Enbridge’s own experts debunked this claim. We cannot allow the oil companies like Enbridge to mislead our communities into supporting their dangerous products.

It is a matter of time before Line 5’s neglected pipeline causes irreversible damage to both the Great Lakes communities and the fragile ecosystems around it. We must ensure that this pipeline is decommissioned before it can cause a catastrophic disaster to our waterways.

Sample Comment Language

I request the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conduct a complete review of the proposed project as part of its Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. 

This review should be thorough and include:

  • Comprehensive alternatives analysis: Independent studies have revealed that Line 5 is not a necessary piece of infrastructure and other options for the transport of the products currently in Line 5 exist and could be implemented quickly. A review of the existing Line 5 pipeline vs the tunnel as the only two options would be inadequate. The alternatives analysis should include an alternative that considers the use of existing capacity in Enbridge’s pipelines to transport the petroleum products that the proposed project is designed to accommodate. The “no action” alternative should account for the fact that Enbridge is operating Line 5 in Michigan without a valid easement and, they continue to operate years after being evicted by the Bad River Band of Chippewa Indians in WI. Ongoing lawsuits from the State of Michigan and the Bad River Band of Chippewa Indians may lead to the decommissioning of the Line 5 pipeline. USACE’s alternatives analysis the “no action” alternative cannot assume that Line 5 will continue to function. 
  • Cumulative Impacts & Segmentation:The EIS must consider all indirect and cumulative impacts and avoid segmentation of other pending proposals to modify Line 5. The EIS must consider together this proposal with the proposed reroute in Wisconsin. USACE should prepare one thorough EIS for the entire line encompassing both projects, as they are connected actions whose review should not be segmented.
  • Inadequacy of geotechnical studies: Initial geotechnical studies performed on the site for the Line 5 tunnel are inadequate, comprising roughly 1/10th of the industry recommended research for a tunnel of this scope. USACE must review the complex geological and hydrogeological conditions that exist in the Straits of Mackinac.
  • Potential archaeological and cultural site: USACE must meaningfully consult with Tribal Nations, the State Historic Preservation Officer, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in the NHPA Section 106 process regarding potential adverse effects to the potential 10,000 year old Indigenous cultural site that has been located near the proposed tunnel. Tunnel construction could destroy this potential important cultural resource for local Tribal nations.
  • Explosion risk during construction and operation: Over the course of MPSC’s review of this proposal, expert testimony indicated a significant risk of explosion due to operating an oil and NGL pipeline within the confines of a tunnel with an open annulus design. PHMSA expressed concerns about the confined space of a tunnel. In the limited geotechnical analysis, dissolved methane in groundwater above reportable levels was detected. This leads to an explosivity risk during construction and must be investigated.
  • Climate Impacts: At MPSC, experts presented this project would potentially add 27 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually. USACE must fully review the potential climate impacts of this proposal to ensure that it adheres to the goals of US and global climate policy.
  • Drilling slurry: The applicant proposes to use a bentonite drilling slurry in the Tunnel Boring Machine to drill through the Straits of Mackinac. The slurry is potentially hazardous waste and bentonite; when released into surface water it can coat gills of fish, resulting in large fish kills. The Straits of Mackinac are Treaty-protected fishing grounds for local Tribes and are the most productive part of the Great Lakes Tribal fishery. Enbridge’s track record of recent frac-outs on the Line 3 expansion project should call their methods into question.


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