U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Michigan, has introduced a bill that could force Enbridge Energy to replace its aging pipeline under the straits of Mackinac. The so-called Great Lakes Oil Spill Prevention Act would require strict maintenance of any oil pipeline in the Great Lakes -- which means Enbridge's controversial Line 5. The act would require pipeline operators to submit status reports regularly, and immediately report problems, to PHMSA, the federal pipeline safety agency, and requires that agency to keep the state informed as well. The act also has a provision to require the replacement of pipeline materials over 50 years old. Line 5 was built in 1953, so it is 64 years old now.
Michigan is currently studying the cost and feasibility of making Enbridge replace the pipeline with a new one. Enbridge -- one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors -- has come under increasing scrutiny from the state, especially after it failed to disclose to the state that a portion of the protective coating on the pipeline was missing. Enbridge is also responsible for one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history, which happened near Marshall, Michigan in the summer of 2010. Enbridge released this statement in response to the Bishop-sponsored bill:
Enbridge is focused on maintaining the safety and integrity of our pipelines and ensuring delivery of critical resources that provide needed energy to Michigan homes and businesses. We are committed to moving forward with the work outlined in our agreement with the State of Michigan which enhances our safe operations. We are in full compliance with all existing federal pipeline safety and reporting requirements.