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Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines run under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

I've been up north, as we say in this state, for the last week, on Lake Michigan about fifty miles from the Straits of Mackinac. Fifty miles, that is, from Line 5, the oil pipeline – actually, twin pipelines -- under the straits. There has been a lot of concern about Line 5 in recent years.

People have suddenly discovered the existence of the line, which can carry as much as 540,000 barrels of light crude oil and liquid natural gas a day, pumped at high pressure under the lakes.

Enbridge's Line 5 runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge

State agencies have weighed in on the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.

There’s still time for people to comment on a report about potential alternatives to the Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Agency for Energy, Michigan Public Service Commission and Office of the Attorney General gave their thoughts over the weekend.

The line sends oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac.

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

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline continues to face public scrutiny.

Several state officials heard public comment on Tuesday. It was the first of three such sessions planned around the state.

The Enbridge Line 5 pipeline carries crude oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac. Environmental groups say that could lead to disaster.

The feedback will be taken into consideration by independent contractors working on a final report about possible alternatives to the pipeline. A draft of the report was released several weeks ago.

MDEQ seeks comments on Line 5 plan

Jul 24, 2017
One of the anchors used to hold Line 5 in place under the Straits of Mackinac.
Screen shot of a Ballard Marine inspection video / Enbridge Energy

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, July 25, to hear comments from the public on a new plan by Enbridge Energy to stabilize Line 5, an aging oil pipeline that runs beneath the Mackinac Straits.

Enbridge is already under fire ahead of the meeting for failing to take a worst-case oil spill scenario into account in its plans. The National Wildlife Federation has submitted a detailed critique of the plan.

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

New public meetings began Thursday about the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.

Several state agencies and the authors of a report suggesting alternatives to the pipeline gave a presentation and took questions. 

The pipeline sends oil and natural gas across sections of lower and upper Michigan, and runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

A report created by Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. was released earlier this week. It gives six options for dealing with the decades-old pipeline.

Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines run under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

For the Fourth of July, former Michigan attorney general Frank Kelley invited me to watch fireworks from the porch at the Captain’s Quarters overlooking the harbor on Mackinac Island.

From there, I could see fireworks simultaneously from Cheboygan and Mackinaw City, in addition to those being fired from a barge not far offshore from the island.

Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines run under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan recently terminated its contract with an independent contractor that was analyzing any potential risk posed by Enbridge Energy’s 64-year-old Line 5 pipeline.

Firing that contractor leaves a lot of unanswered questions. The state says the company, Det Norske Veritas, a Norwegian firm, failed to follow conflict of interest rules. An employee of the firm was working on the state’s request for a risk analysis of the 64-year-old pipeline and then also did work for Enbridge.

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

The state of Michigan has scrapped a risk study on Enbridge’s Line 5 and fired the contractor just a week before a first draft of the report was to be released.

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

Enbridge Energy says it’s pressure testing the structural integrity of Line Five beneath the Straits of Mackinac. The company says the results appear to show the oil and gas pipeline does not pose a serious threat to the Great Lakes.

The company tested the first of two underwater pipes over the weekend.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow announced Wednesday they will introduce a package of bills aimed at making oil pipelines safer for the Great Lakes.

Peters says the bills will address the unique needs of the Great Lakes.

"Senator Stabenow and I are very concerned about this threat, and we're teaming up to create a package of legislation to hold Great Lakes pipeline operators to the highest standard possible," Peters said.

Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines run under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the board passed a resolution Tuesday in opposition to Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 pipeline. The resolution passed on a 7-3 vote.

15 other counties, 24 cities and 26 townships throughout the state have also voted in favor of shutting down Line 5.

The more than 60-year-old pipeline travels through Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. It was created to be a safer and more efficient way to transport crude oil.

This map shows the probabilities of where oil might go after a spill in the Straits of Mackinac.
From the UM Water Center report

A group hopes to get a ballot question before voters that would ban Enbridge from transporting oil through its Line 5 pipelines, which run under the Straits of Mackinac.

Attorney Jeffrey Hank is with the group, Keep Our Lakes Great.

Hank says while there are other efforts underway, including studies assessing the risks of the pipeline and alternatives to it, "we can't dawdle. After Flint and all these other lessons, we've seen we can't just sit around. So if the state doesn't do something, we're going to put the question before voters."

AN ENBRIDGE INSPECTION VIDEO SHARED WITH THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

An oil pipeline running beneath the Straits of Mackinac could be shut down under a bill in the legislature.

The company that operates the pipeline insists it’s safe.

Nevertheless, State Senator Rick Jones wants a third party analysis of Line 5. 

The red lines show where Enbridge's Line 5 crosses Lake Michigan.
screenshot from Enbridge report to the state

It was standing room only at a relatively obscure state board meeting today.

The Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board heard a presentation from the oil and gas company that owns Line 5 – an oil and gas pipeline that runs along the bottom of Lake Michigan near the Mackinac Bridge.

“This pipeline is in as good a condition as it was the day it was installed. Our corrosion prevention system is doing its job," Kurt Baraniecki, director for Integrity Programs for Enbridge, told the board. "Our monitoring efforts are effective.”

Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines run under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In a new report released today, the National Wildlife Federation took a look at data on currents in the Straits of Mackinac. That’s where Enbridge’s twin pipelines run along the bottom of Lake Michigan.

Mike Shriberg is the executive director of the Federation’s Great Lakes office.

“What this report shows is that there are additional stresses on this pipeline beyond what it was designed for," he says.

In 2010, oil spilled into a creek near the Kalamazoo River from Enbridge Line 6b
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio


It was April of 2010 when Enbridge Line 6b ruptured, spilling more than a million gallons of Canadian heavy crude oil into a creek near Kalamazoo.

It was the largest inland spill in United States history.

That spill gave Michiganders a very good reason to sit up and pay closer attention to the nearly 3,300 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines that weave through our state, particularly Enbridge Line 5, which runs in the Straits of Mackinac.

Part of a map of the easternmost oil and natural gas liquid pipeline that shows areas of "coating delamination." The east line shows 11 such areas. The west line shows seven.
Enbridge document submitted to the EPA

An Enbridge work plan document shows areas where a protective coating around its twin oil pipelines running through Lake Michigan might be failing.

Enbridge posted the document on its website last fall. It shows 18 specific areas along the pipelines where there is “coating delamination.” The 64-year-old pipelines were installed with a coating around them to protect for corrosion.

Russ / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Is Line 5 needed to heat the Upper Peninsula?

Feb 14, 2017
Enbridge's Line 5 runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge

 

An environmental group in Traverse City is challenging the claim that Enbridge’s Line 5 is necessary to keep residents of the U.P. warm. 

The twin pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac deliver natural gas liquids that can be turned into propane.

Enbridge's Line 5 runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge

The Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline stretches from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario. It crosses northern Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then under the Straits of Mackinac which connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

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The path of the 64-year-old pipeline also crosses the Bad River Reservation in northeast Wisconsin.

According to Robert Blanchard, the chairman of the Bad River Band Tribal Council, the easement under which Enbridge has been operating the pipeline on the Bad River Reservation expired in 2013. Last week, the council voted not to renew the easement, which could eventually lead to removal of the section of the pipeline that crosses through the reservation.

One of the anchors used to hold Line 5 in place under the Straits of Mackinac.
Screen shot of a Ballard Marine inspection video / Enbridge Energy

Legislation has been introduced in Congress calling for a shut down of Enbridge's Line 5 if a federal study shows that it threatens the Great Lakes.

Line 5 is the controversial, 63 year-old underwater pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

The legislation would require the federal government to conduct a study to determine the economic and environmental risks to the Great Lakes from possible failures of Line 5, and it puts a 12 month deadline on completing the study.

Republican Dave Trott and Democrat Debbie Dingell are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Enbridge's Line 5 runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge

UPDATED 10/4/16 at 12:50 pm

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says Enbridge Energy can install four additional anchor supports on the Line 5 pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The MDEQ issued a permit for the four supports to maintain the integrity and safety of the pipeline.

Enbridge still needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A natural gas pipeline
www.FERC.gov

Are people writing from beyond the grave to support a proposed natural gas line that would run from Ohio into Southeast Michigan and on into Ontario?

According to a story in today's Detroit Free Press, the answer is yes.

One of the anchors used to hold Line 5 in place under the Straits of Mackinac.
Screen shot of a Ballard Marine inspection video / Enbridge Energy

 

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 goes right under Lake Michigan. It splits into two pipelines at the Straits, and it was recently announced that the supports that hold the pipeline in place are not in compliance with a 1953 easement agreement with the state.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Crews hired by Enbridge are back at work along the Kalamazoo River again this month.

In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline broke near Marshall, spewing about a million gallons of crude oil that fouled the Kalamazoo River. The company spent more than a billion dollars cleaning up the spill.

The clean-up is done. But Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy says the restoration of the habitat along the river continues.

“We’re just doing some work along the river,putting in logs, roots, woody structures, things like that along the river banks,” says Duffy.

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

UPDATED at 9:34 pm on 8/3/16

Some of the supports for Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac are not as close together as they should be, according to State Attorney General Bill Schuette.

That’s gotten the company into some hot water with the state of Michigan.

Supports help keep the pipeline stable as it is buffeted by the powerful currents of the Straits. 

Enbridge told the state in 2014 the pipeline has supports every 75 feet, as required by the state's 1953 easement.

Farmer Mick Luber stands along the southern border of his property in eastern Ohio, where Marathon has begun installing a liquid natural gas pipeline.
Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

There’s been a big push to build new pipelines to move natural gas from well heads, to the people who need it. If it’s considered in the public interest, pipeline companies can get the power of eminent domain. That allows them to route their lines through people’s land, whether the landowner likes it or not.

But what happens when they’re carrying other products - like propane, butane, or ethane - byproducts of natural gas production?

The confluence of Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River in 2010 (left), and in 2015 (right).
USEPA and Mark Brush / USEPA, Michigan Radio

You probably remember hearing about fines levied against Enbridge for the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill before. You're right. You did.

The company paid fines and settlements to the state of Michigan, fines to tribes, and fines to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and settlements with nearby homeowners and landowners.

Screen showing Line 5 on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan has contracted with Det Norske Veritas to conduct a risk analysis of Enbridge Energy Line 5, two oil pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac.

A separate consultant, Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, will study the alternatives to keeping the aging pipelines open.

Environmental groups say a failure of the pipelines would be a catastrophe for the Great Lakes.

Earth First

A group of Earth First activists held a rowdy protest at the Midland home of State Attorney General Bill Schuette to demand the immediate shutdown of an aging oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. 

A statement by Earth First issued after the protest says until Schuette shuts down Enbridge Line 5, he can expect more protests at his home.

Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely says protesters violently beat on the door and windows while Schuette's wife was home alone, and they defaced the property. 

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