Saturday, September 30, 2017

Guest article: Line 5 under Mackinac Straits poses dire risk to Great Lakes waters

By Zoe Person*

Zoe Person, the author of this article, is pictured here with her friend Nathan ("Nate") Frischkorn at the Sept. 2, 2017, Pipe Out Paddle Protest in Mackinaw City against Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. Both are majoring in environmental studies at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. In addition to joining protesters on the beach during the kayak / canoe launch, Nathan and Zoe led a protest march through Mackinaw City that afternoon. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Line 5 poses a dire risk to the Straits, to the Great Lakes region, to the largest surface freshwater system on earth, to the drinking water for 40 million people, to life -- and it continues to run unabated. It needs to be decommissioned immediately, before it inevitably ruptures and poisons our Great Lakes.

Burdened by the increased pressure of pumping an additional 541,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude oil per day, it will leak toxic spills potentially more devastating than those experienced in Kalamazoo. The continued use of this pipeline offers us nothing but the foreseeable and tragic destruction of our water and lives by a completely unaccountable oil and gas industry for the sake of their private profit. It is essential for us to remember that water is alive and we are that water. We can’t live without clean water, breathable air, and a healthy land base. We need to transition to sustainable energy independence.

I’m grateful for the protest organizers and everyone who convened. Participating was inspiring and exciting. I’m definitely glad I went. I listened to some heart-rending stories of resistance, especially from a man who lives next to frack sand mines and from a woman with a basket of fragrant sweet grass who was at Standing Rock. We raised awareness and incited conversation among those we passed while marching in protest, dancing, drumming, and light brigading. The locals were supportive.

Speakers at the press conference shared vital information. Two 20" pipelines designed to last for 50 years were put under the Straits in 1953. Line 5 passed its expiration date 14 years ago. It has introduced invasive species. Huge portions of the protective enamel coating have eroded, exposing bare metal. It's bent and deformed and floating down there in some parts for hundreds of feet without at least 20 percent of the anchors that were supposed to be installed to support it, in violation of the easement. Enbridge has no coherent plan for cleaning the spill. They said they would light the oil on fire. When the spill happens, Mackinac Island will be engulfed within 8 hrs.**

As Lee Sprague said, "I’m against Enbridge pipeline one through infinity. Pipelines they’re thinking about, I’m against."

It was great to hear from such fiery, sincerely caring, and devoted candidates as Dana Nessel.***

Editor's Notes:

* Zoe Person, the author of this article, is a Northern Michigan University student majoring in environmental studies.

** See a recent post by Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW (For Love Of Water), "Ecological disasters do not wait for political elections." Kirkwood points out in her update how the State of Michigan has continued to delay a solution to Line 5 problems. She notes also, "Enbridge has an outstanding permit request to install 22 additional anchors. But the state is in no position to authorize these permits because the anchors themselves have caused the bare metal exposure on the pipeline."

*** See our Sept. 16, 2017, article, "3rd annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Enbridge's Line 5 under Mackinac Straits attracts Native, non-Native water protectors," which includes photos and videos of the event and the speakers at the press conference.

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