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New Urgency Surrounds Michigan’s Efforts to Shut Down Enbridge Line 5 Oil Pipeline

DETROIT, MI – A federal agency’s announcement Thursday of a lengthy delay in deciding on a controversial proposed oil tunnel construction project in the Great Lakes will likely increase pressure on the Biden administration to support Michigan officials’ efforts to shut down the existing damaged and aging pipeline in the Straits.

In announcing the 18-month delay in its federal permitting process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cited the need to study a massive amount of information submitted, most of which challenged the project. Enbridge had originally predicted the tunnel would replace its existing damaged Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac by next year and placed the cost at $500 million while others believed $2 billion was a more accurate figure.  It now appears 2029 is the earliest possible completion date for the tunnel–if it is ever built–and that the three-year construction costs will be even higher.

“No one should be surprised that Enbridge lied about its timeline to create the false perception that the dangerous old pipeline would soon be out of the Great Lakes,” said Sean McBrearty, Clean Water Action Michigan Legislative & Policy Director and Oil & Water Don’t Mix Coordinator. “Enbridge’s timeline was always unrealistic and so is their tunnel project.  What’s real is that there is still a dangerous, old, damaged oil pipeline threatening the Great Lakes and Michigan.  That’s what’s real for Michigan.”

Michigan’s governor and attorney general want to shut down a dangerous oil pipeline in the Great Lakes and this delay creates even more urgency to do that now before Line 5 fails and we are faced with an environmental and economic disaster in the heart of the Great Lakes, said McBrearty.

The Army Corps permitting delay comes as the Soo Locks reopen Saturday and a busy shipping season commences through the Straits.  The 70-year-old Line 5, which is in the open waters of the Straits, has been struck at least twice and damaged by ship anchors, which remains a top concern.  Also this week, President Biden is meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau in Canada. Canada has moved in court and with the State Department  to block Michigan’s efforts to decommission the Straits oil pipeline.

“President Biden should be telling Trudeau to back off on Line 5 and protect the Great Lakes, which is a shared responsibility between the U.S. and Canada,” said McBrearty. “ And when he returns to Washington, the president can direct the State Department to support Michigan instead of a Canadian oil company.”

Nearly 18,000 comments on the proposed tunnel project were received by the Army Corps, with many questioning the safety, need and reliability of Enbridge’s proposed project.  Experts and others provided the Army Corps with engineering and other scientific data raising concerns and questions about the impact of tunnel construction on natural and historic, cultural resources and the local tourist economy. Commenters also said a new oil pipeline in the Great Lakes carrying multiple flammable liquids carried a risk of a catastrophic explosion in the Straits of Mackinac was in conflict with federal and Michigan policies aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change.


Oil & Water Don't Mix, founded in 2013 at the Straits of Mackinac, is a Michigan's citizens campaign to shut down Enbridge Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac and protect the Great Lakes from oil pipelines.  Our coalition is led by Native American tribes, local grassroots civic and environmental groups and statewide organizations and powered by 71,000 supporters from across the Great Lakes State and beyond.

Oil & Water Don’t Mix Steering Committee

Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA), Clean Water Action, FLOW (For Love of Water), Groundwork Center for Resilient Families, League of Women Voters of Michigan, Michigan Climate Action Network, Michigan Environmental Council, Northern Michigan Environmental Council, Progress Michigan, Sierra Club, Straits Area Concerned Citizens for Peace, Justice & the Environment, Straits of Mackinac Alliance, TC350


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Oil & Water Don't Mix ➡️

The Oil & Water Don't Mix coalition was formed to address the threat to the Great Lakes from the aged, dangerous Line 5 pipeline and associated proposed tunnel project. Together, we saw a need to organize on behalf of Michiganders and all those that value and use the Great Lakes - for our freshwater future, not fossil fuel profit.