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Michigan lawmaker wants moratorium on Great Lakes pipelines

Apr 11, 2016

The barge in the middle of the Straits of Mackinac.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

An upcoming state senate bill would curb new oil pipelines in the Great Lakes.

Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says he'll introduce legislation this week that would block new pipelines from running through Great Lakes waters.

The bill would also require existing lines to undergo a third-party safety review – including Enbridge's Line 5 beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Jones says his bill would shut down the 63-year-old line, and others, if the safety review deemed it unsafe.

"A [Line 5 break] would devastate tourism in places like Mackinac Island. It would harm fishing. It would harm Lake Huron for a hundred years. It's something we just can't allow," Jones said.

The planned bill comes on the heels of a University of Michigan Water Center study that says hundreds of miles of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron shoreline would be at risk for contamination if Line 5 were to rupture.

Enbridge says the U of M study was based on "unrealistic assumptions."

"When it comes to protecting the Straits of Mackinac and the safety of Line 5, Enbridge employees and contractors work hard every day to make sure the pipeline continues to operate safely," the company said, in a statement.

Meanwhile, contractors have an extra week to submit proposals to the state for bids to study Line 5.

The twin pipes carry 23 million gallons of oil daily.

* Editor’s note: Enbridge is a financial supporter of Michigan Radio.

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