Michigan AG And DEQ Director Ask Governor To Stop Flow Of Crude Oil Under Straits of Mackinac To Save Great Lakes

The Michigan Attorney General and Director of the Department of Environmental Quality teamed up as guest writers in a Detroit Free Press article, in which they made an impassioned plea to protect the Great Lakes.

Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes. The State of Michigan is steward to these lakes, which are the largest freshwater bodies in the United States. According to Attorney General Bill Schuette and DEQ director Dan Wyant, the state's Great Lakes hold more than one-fifth of the entire world's freshwater, and for some reason, even though it has been called the worst possible location for it, there is a pipeline full of crude oil running right under the Straits of Mackinac. That pipeline is over six decades old.

It's never been replaced in over 60 years, and it's owned and operated by Enbridge, the same company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in history, according to a National Wildlife Foundation article. Experts say that they can't imagine a more potentially devastating location for a pipeline to be located in the Great Lake's region. If even one pipe breaks, and Enbridge were to notice and stop the flow immediately, the damage would already be disastrous for the wildlife and economy of the entire region.

The Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan with Lake Huron. Schuette and Wyant explain why they are suggesting to the governor that an immediate halt in the flow of the heavy crude oil is so important.

"Why the urgency? Just five years ago, Michigan suffered from the largest inland oil spill in American history. Enbridge's Line 6B, near Kalamazoo, burst. More than 840,000 gallons of oil were discharged, fouling more than 38 miles of river, banks, floodplains and wetlands along the Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River. A similar pipeline accident under the Straits of Mackinac would have catastrophic consequences, for both the environment and our economy. The Enbridge pipelines under the straits can transport up to 540,000 barrels a day. To put that in perspective, it would take 2,512 tanker trucks each day to transport the same amount of fuel."
Michigan is the only state in the Union that is entirely contained within the Great Lakes' watershed. The two guest authors write that, while co-chairing the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force, they met with environmental and public interest groups, people from within the oil industry, federal regulators, technical experts, tribal government leaders, and concerned citizens. Given that the Great Lakes should be considered an irreplaceable natural resource, the task force came up with a list of 13 recommended actions, and at the top of the list was written, "An immediate ban on tar sands and heavy crude flowing through the Straits Pipelines."The Attorney General and director of the DEQ stated that the Coast Guard has made it clear that if crude oil spills in open water, it simply can't be effectively cleaned. If that pipeline bursts, there's no turning back, and no repairing the Great Lakes."Michigan is uniquely positioned as the guardian of the Great Lakes," they write. "Let's act now, while we have time, to ensure our lakes remain great for generations to come."

Thursday, the National Wildlife Federation sued the U.S. Department of Transportation. The NWF claims the DOT neglected to require Enbridge to create a worst-case oil spill response plan for the controversial pipeline that runs along the bottom of the straits and threatens the future of the Great Lakes.

[Featured Photo: Screenshot Motherboard video | NWF]