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Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 could be moved into tunnel running 100 feet beneath the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac. Or it could be encased in a concrete and stone. Those are two options put forward today by the company as alternatives to allow it to continue to rest on the lakebed beneath the straits.

Enbridge’s report says either option virtually eliminates the risk of an oil spill in the Great Lakes.

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

 


This week, the U.S. Supreme Court released a decision that could strengthen the fishing rights of Native American tribes across the nation. It could even give tribes in the Great Lakes region a legal framework to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 pipelines.

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

A Canadian company will turn in a report tomorrow outlining whether it thinks a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac is a feasible option for its pipeline. A tunnel was suggested by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

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 will release a report on their controversial Line 5 pipeline this Friday at the request of Governor Snyder.  

Enbridge is expected to recommend replacing the existing Line 5 with tunneled pipelines, much to the dismay of experts and attorneys across the state.

The 65-year-old pipeline runs beneath the Mackinac Straits. It transports natural gas liquids to refineries in the Upper Peninsula and Canada, where the gas is turned into propane.

Mackinac Bridge
Wikimedia Commons

Governor Rick Snyder wants an oil and gas pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac to eventually be de-commissioned.

The mist-shrouded straits served as a backdrop as the governor answered questions on a variety of topics. When asked about Enbridge Energy’s Line 5, he said the environmental risks are too great for the pipeline to remain where it’s been for the past 60 years.

“I don’t think anyone feels as comfortable as you’d like to having that pipeline and potentially other items on the bottom of the straits.”

map of Line 5
Enbridge

A report on Enbridge Energy's Line 5 pipeline titled “Canadian Profits, Michigan Risk” was released by Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities Wednesday morning.

The Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas
flickr user Always Shooting / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a temporary order that bans ships from dropping anchor in the Straits of Mackinac. That’s following an incident in April when a ship dragged an anchor across the bottom of the straits, causing a mineral oil spill and damage to the Line 5 fuel pipeline.

“Maritime maps have been marked for some time with the Straits of Mackinac as an advisory to not drop your anchor, but there’s been no rule or regulation technically prohibiting it, and so this rule now prohibits that,” said Snyder Communications Director Ari Adler.

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

UPDATED 5/25/18 at 2:13 pm.

A new poll by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA poll found 54% of Michigan voters want the Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac to be shut down.

It also found that 87% of voters said they are concerned that the 65-year-old pipeline could have oil spill in Northern Michigan, while 64% said they are "very concerned."

Enbridge Energy, which is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio, owns and maintains Line 5.

On the Kalamazoo River just downstream from the confluence of Talmadge Creek. Around 1 million gallons of tar sands oil spilled into the river in 2010.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A new study says Michigan's economy would take a big hit if there was an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits. A Michigan State University professor estimates a spill could cost the state's economy more than $6 billion. Enbridge Energy says the study is "flawed" and based on "unrealistic estimates." This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the study's potential impact.

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

The U.S. government has fined Enbridge Inc. more than $1.8 million after accusing the Canadian oil transport company of missing deadlines for pipeline inspections following a gigantic oil spill in southwestern Michigan.

ENBRIDGE INSPECTION VIDEO SHARED WITH THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

Michigan’s economy would take a big hit from an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits, according to a new study.

A study by Michigan State University ecological economist Robert Richardson estimates Michigan’s economy would lose $6.3 billion if there’s a significant oil pipeline break in the Straits of Mackinac.

The study is based on a scenario where more than 2 million gallons of crude oil leaks from the Enbridge Energy Line 5 pipeline.  

Title screen of 'Beneath the Surface.'
Detroit Public Television

The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines have made national headlines, but could Enbridge's Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac pose the biggest environmental risk of all?

That's the question posed by a documentary airing tonight on Detroit Public Television.

It's called "Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes."

aerial view of bridge and icy water
PA3 George Degener / Wikimedia Commons

Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced plans to sue an Escanaba-based tugboat company for allegedly damaging underwater cables and a pipeline with an anchor in the Straits of Mackinac. The anchor also likely caused dents in Line 5 – the oil and gas pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy.

Michigan Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talks to Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about the controversy over whether to shut down Line 5.

A tug and barge leaving Duluth port
Pete Markham / Wikipedia Commons

Michigan's Attorney General says the Escanaba-based company allegedly responsible for damage to two pipelines under the straits of Mackinac will face civil charges.

The Cobo Center in Detroit
Richard Landskroener / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan Democrats will gather at the Cobo Center in Detroit on Sunday for their party's state endorsement convention. These conventions are generally pretty drama-free, but this one could be different.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the bitter race between Dana Nessel and Patrick Miles, who are both seeking the nomination for Michigan's next attorney general.


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

There's been more than a little concern regarding Enbridge's oil and gas pipeline known as Line 5. It crosses under the Mackinac Straits near the Mighty Mac Bridge, and it's more than 60 years old.

Some of its protective coating is missing and there's been some interior corrosion, but Enbridge says Line 5 is safe.

But, recent vessel activity – presumably an anchor strike – damaged submerged electric cables and also dented Line 5 in three spots. 

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

I am not exactly a violent person. Nobody has ever confused me with Norman Mailer. But someday, I may be sitting at a press conference after the twin pipelines under the straits of Mackinac rupture, and 700 miles of shoreline are contaminated and ruined.

And if a politician, or some spokesman for a politician, then says they didn’t have sufficient warning, I cannot guarantee I’d be responsible for my actions.

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

Three small dents in Enbridge Energy's Line 5 pipeline are likely from the same vessel that caused damage to electrical cables in the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge told the state late Tuesday night that the damage poses no threat to the pipeline, although a previous independent analysis listed anchor damage as one of the largest risks to the line.

Mackinac Bridge
Wikimedia Commons

Officials say 550 gallons of potentially toxic coolant fluid have leaked from electric power cables that run underwater where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet.

The owner of the cables, American Transmission Company, says the fluid is a mineral-based synthetic oil used for insulation that can be harmful if released into the environment.

American Transmission says the leak was discovered after the two cables tripped offline Sunday evening. The cables have been taken out of service.

Part of the new line 6B pipeline in central Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

State officials have given Enbridge Energy permission to install 22 more anchor supports along twin pipelines at the bottom of the waterway linking Lakes Michigan and Huron.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit last week allowing the supports for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. Installing the additional anchor supports will minimize the span distance within the Straits of Mackinac.

According to the DEQ press release, each of the 22 anchors will be installed using 10-inch diameter screws with a total lake bottom impact of nine cubic yards.

ENBRIDGE INSPECTION VIDEO SHARED WITH THE STATE OF MICHIGAN

A Republican report released last week by the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology found that social media accounts linked to Russian propagandists were tweeting and posting about Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Keith Matheny, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, joined Stateside today to explain what's known about these Russian trolls.

Joint Congress
The White House

President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address last night. He made references to the auto industry in Michigan and took credit for some jobs moving to the region.

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the parts of the speech relevant to Michigan residents.

SCREENSHOT FROM ENBRIDGE REPORT TO THE STATE

Governor Rick Snyder is rejecting a proposal to shut down an oil pipeline that runs beneath the Mackinac Straits.

Last month the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (MPSAB), a panel created by the governor, urged Snyder to temporarily shut down Enbridge Line 5 until it can be inspected for gaps in the external coating and all the gaps are repaired.

But today, the governor says recent tests indicated there “is not a risk of imminent failure.”  

screenshot from Enbridge report to the state

U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Michigan, has introduced a bill that could force Enbridge Energy to replace its aging pipeline under the straits of Mackinac.   The so-called Great Lakes Oil Spill Prevention Act would require strict maintenance of any oil pipeline in the Great Lakes -- which means Enbridge's controversial Line 5.  The act would require pipeline operators to submit status reports regularly, and immediately report problems, to PHMSA, the federal pipeline safety agency, and requires that agency to keep the state informed as well.  The act also has a provision to require the replacement of pipeline materials over 50 years old.  Line 5 was built in 1953, so it is 64 years old now. 

Courtesy of Elizabeth LaPensée

The name “America” was drawn from the first name of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who died in 1512. But the first inhabitants of what we now call “North America” call it "Turtle Island."

A new video game called Thunderbird Strike lets players protect Turtle Island, particularly from the oil industry.

SCREENSHOT FROM ENBRIDGE REPORT TO THE STATE

Tired of waiting for the state, environmentalists are offering their own plan for shutting down an oil pipeline that runs beneath the Mackinac Straits.

In recent years, concerns the aging pipeline could leak prompted calls from various groups to stop oil flowing through the pipeline. The Line 5 pipeline is owned by Enbridge Energy, which is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio.

Michigan State University sign
Wikimedia Commons / public domain

As the cases against former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar continue to unfold, there have been calls for MSU President Lou Anna Simon to resign. The latest came from State House Speaker Tom Leonard who says MSU hasn't been forthcoming about who knew what, and when, about Nassar's crimes.

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss whether removing President Simon is the right response. 

screenshot from Enbridge report to the state

Members of a pipeline advisory board are criticizing a deal Governor Snyder struck with the energy company Enbridge. They are calling for the line to be temporarily shut down.

The Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, created by a governor’s executive order, met Monday. Some members raised concerns over Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, and the agreement the governor made with the company after the line showed wear on the decades-old protective coating.

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

The state is getting public feedback on the future of Enbridge’s Line 5.

State environmental officials held the first of three public meetings on the subject in the Detroit suburb of Taylor Wednesday night.

The state released an alternatives analysis for the pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac earlier this year. It’s also commissioning a risk analysis.

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

Enbridge Energy temporarily shut down Line 5 operations in the Straits of Mackinac Tuesday morning. 

Under a new agreement with the state, Enbridge has to suspend Line 5 operations in the Straits during severe weather when waves reach eight feet or more.

That agreement also requires the energy company to ramp up efforts to prevent a spill.  

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