Straits of Mackinac | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

Straits of Mackinac

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Enbridge has taken its legal battle to federal court to keep oil flowing through its dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. 

The suit is intended to counter an effort by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) to revoke the company’s easement to operate the pipeline. The easement dates back to 1953.

Earlier this month, Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources informed Enbridge of plans to revoke the easement, citing numerous issues. At the same time, the state also filed a motion in Ingham County Circuit Court to enforce the revocation of the easement.


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 Updated 2:38 p.m. to include statement from Enbridge Energy. 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer plans to revoke the easement the state granted in 1953 that allows Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 to cross the Straits of Mackinac.

The announcement came as the Department of Natural Resources released a review of Enbridge’s record over the 67 years the Line 5 dual pipelines have sat on the bottom of the Straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The DNR cited the Canadian pipeline company’s “historic failures and current non-compliance” as reasons to revoke the easement.

Emergency room hospital
Pixabay

Today on Stateside, the Michigan Republican Party issued a number of unsubstantiated claims against election proceedings in Detroit this week. But on a county by county level, Michigan’s elections appear to have run remarkably smoothly. We check in with a county clerk about how the tabulation process went. Also, a reporter discusses an Upper Peninsula hospital’s preparations for another COVID-19 surge. 

This Enbridge boat is one of several on standby in the event of an oil spill.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The oil pipeline company Enbridge pushed to limit what a state regulator could consider regarding relocating the Line 5 twin pipelines across the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge did not want the Michigan Public Service Commission to consider a proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac which would house a new section of Line 5.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Two bills introduced this week in Lansing would increase the legal penalties for large boat operators who don’t pass cautiously through the Straits of Mackinac.

House Bill 6307 is sponsored by Representative Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), and House Bill 6308 by Representative Sue Allor (R-Wolverine). 

 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A scientific expert says Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Energy has not submitted enough information to the state for permits to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. The groups Oil and Water Don’t Mix and the National Wildlife Federation included a geological engineer who build tunnels in an online news conference.

Brian O’Mara reviewed the reports in the tunnel proposal submitted to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. O’Mara says Enbridge did not take nearly enough core samples of bedrock along the route of the tunnel, and what they did take showed it’s not solid bedrock all the way across.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Energy has been eager to show news media its new Enbridge Straits Maritime Operations Center in Mackinaw City. Its purpose is to try to prevent another anchor strike or other damage to Line 5, the dual pipelines carrying oil and natural gas liquids.

work being done under Mackinac bridge
Enbridge

Update: Thursday, September 10, 10 p.m.

An Enbridge spokesman, Michael Barnes, confirms that the east leg of Line 5 returned to full operations at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, saying, "The east leg is operating as normal."

A dive team works on Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

 This story was updated 8:00 p.m. August 19, 2020. 

Groups representing business, environmentalists, and Native Americans are calling on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to shut down Enbridge's Line 5.

The more than 600 mile long pipeline carrying crude oil and natural gas liquids is 67 years old. A section of Line 5 sits on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lakes Michigan and Huron. The pipeline splits into twin pipelines under the Straits.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A federal court has sided with pipeline company Enbridge in a dispute over plans to deal with a potential oil spill in Michigan's Straits of Mackinac.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan regulators want more information from Enbridge about its plan to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy told the company in a letter this week its application is “incomplete.” Gongwer News Service reports EGLE “took issue with Enbridge currently not submitting finalized dimensions for the pipeline, such as an exact diameter.”

A choppy surf crashes against the beach underneath the Mackinac Bridge.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking Enbridge Energy for more information about its oil and natural gas liquids pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

The director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources sent a letter this week to Enbridge, asking for detailed information about the more than 60-year-old Line 5. The director issued a 30-day deadline for Enbridge to provide the data.

Two sheets of paper, one with a meeting agenda, one with a resolution in support of Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Cheboygan County passed a resolution to support Enbridge’s construction of a tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac at their board meeting Tuesday morning. 

 

Eight counties — Cheboygan, Delta, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Gogebic, Grand Traverse and Ontonagon — have now passed nearly identical resolutions.

Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

At least eight counties have passed resolutions supporting Enbridge Energy’s proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. The tunnel through bedrock would replace the Line 5 twin oil pipelines that currently sit on the lakebed.

Looking underneath a bridge at sunrise, a group of boats in the water surround several swimmers attached to orange buoys.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

More than 300 people braved the Straits of Mackinac Sunday for the 13th annual Mighty Mac Swim.

Michigan Radio’s Kaye LaFond rode along on a security boat and got a first-hand look at what goes into herding swimmers across four miles of the straits.


a map shows the straits of mackinac with some satellite imagery
screenshot from Enbridge report to the state

Indigenous governments and activists in the Great Lakes have been leaders in the movement to shut down the twin oil pipelines that run under the Mackinac Straits.

Now, one of the most visible people in that movement has left his tribal government job and set up his own consulting firm. One of his clients? The pipelines’ owner, Enbridge Energy.

This sudden change has upset indigenous communities in the region, and some worry it’s a “divide-and-conquer” tactic.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she will meet this week with Enbridge Energy executives. Her goal is come up with an agreement to remove the Line 5 gas and oil pipeline from the Great Lakes.

“I am still talking with Enbridge," Whitmer said. "My hope is that we have a date certain that the pipeline comes out of the water, and we’ve got a resolution to this in the very near future.”

A man leans out of a car door and lifts his binoculars to the sky.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

More than four million people crossed the Straits of Mackinac last year. But they are also one of the busiest migration spots for raptors, or birds of prey, in the United States.

Three people stand outside in the snow, smiling.
Cody Bigjohn Jr.

Indigenous water walkers will travel from Mackinaw City to Lansing to call for a shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipelines.

 

Sarah Jo Shomin, Nancy Gallardo, and Cody Bigjohn Jr. plan to walk 311 miles over the next 17 days.

 

They're calling the journey "N'biish Nibimosaadaanaa", which is Anishinaabemowin for "We Walk for Water."

A choppy surf crashes against the beach underneath the Mackinac Bridge.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A new report says the State of Michigan did not thoroughly review Enbridge’s ability to cover costs in the case of a spill from its twin Line 5 oil pipelines before it signed an agreement with the company. The pipelines run underneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge Energy

Several environmental groups are stepping up their efforts against an expected plan to build a tunnel for an oil pipeline that passes through the Mackinac Straits.

A spokesman for Governor Rick Snyder says the state is still “reviewing studies and working through all possible options” for what to do with Line 5.

But environmentalists believe the governor has already decided.

protesters against Line 5 on the water
Courtesy of Andrea Pierce

This Saturday, a flotilla of kayaks, paddleboards, and birch bark canoes will paddle out into the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

It's the fourth annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest against the pair of oil and natural gas liquids pipelines known as Line 5 that lie beneath the Straits.