Environmentalists worry about oil pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits

Jul 13, 2013

Protesters are expected Sunday afternoon near the Mackinac Bridge. The protest won’t be about what travels over the bridge, but actually beneath it.

Jim Lively is the program director at the Michigan Land Use Institute. He says several environmental groups are worried about an aging oil pipeline that passes through the Mackinac Straits.

“It’s really unclear what the benefit is to the state of Michigan to take this oil that’s coming from either Canada or North Dakota,” says Lively.

He says Gov. Snyder should be more active to insure the pipeline is not presently a danger.

Bill Latka is with the group TC 350. He says the 60-year-old pipeline should be replaced. Latka compares the potential for a catastrophic oil spill in the straits to the leak three years ago that fouled the Kalamazoo River.

“We know from the Kalamazoo spill that when the tar sands oils get into the environment it gets incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to clean up,” says Latka, “So if we’re going to be upgrading that line enough to push tar sands through there, and if they were to rupture, that would be a disaster for that area.”

Pipeline officials say the Mackinac Straits pipeline has never transported Canadian tar sands oil, adding there are no plans to start. They also insist the pipeline is safe and secure.