Straits of Mackinac | Michigan Radio
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Straits of Mackinac

Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

Three Upper Peninsula 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.

Dickinson County passed their resolution first, in June. Iron and Gogebic counties adopted nearly identical versions last week.

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.