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Line 5

The red lines show where Enbridge's Line 5 crosses Lake Michigan.
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.  

Congressman John Conyers
The Henry Ford / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats are calling on Congressman John Conyers to resign over sexual harassment allegations. Pelosi called the accusations against Conyers "serious, disappointing and very credible." Conyers' attorney says the 88-year-old lawmaker might consider resigning if he can no longer effectively represent his constituents.  This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what Conyers' next move might be.


James Marvin Phelps / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

This week brought the announcement that Enbridge Energy of Canada has entered into an agreement with the state of Michigan. The agreement focuses on the future of the Line 5 pipeline, which carries some 23 million gallons of petroleum products every day.

The agreement calls for Enbridge to replace the stretch of Line 5 that runs under the St. Clair River, putting in a new pipeline underground and encasing it in a tunnel. It also requires a study of what it would take to lay the pipeline in a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

What does the newly-announced binding agreement between the state of Michigan and Enbridge mean for the future of Line 5, especially the stretch that runs under the Straits of Mackinac?

There’s something curiously similar in the way Governor Rick Snyder handled negotiations for the new Detroit River bridge at the beginning of his administration, and the proposed deal announced yesterday with Enbridge on the future of Line 5, the oil pipeline that runs under the Straits if Mackinac.

In both cases, he seems to have decided the legislature was essentially dysfunctional, and went ahead and made his own deal. That assessment was certainly accurate in the case of the bridge. Whether that’s true in the case of Enbridge isn’t clear, but what this agreement does do is allow the governor’s office to keep control of the process during the next few stages.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy will be required to take steps to safeguard the Great Lakes under a binding agreement with the state of Michigan.

Enbridge and Governor Snyder signed the agreement Monday, which stipulates that the energy company must act immediately to increase environmental protections around Line 5, the controversial pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge

A final state-commissioned report on alternatives to Line 5 is out.    People are looking for those alternatives because the pipeline runs under the straits of Mackinac, and a spill could be catastrophic.   The highly technical report from Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems claims the overall risk of a spill from Line 5 is very small.  Most people worry about the pipeline losing its protective coating, or metal fatigue caused by stresses from the strong currents, but the report claims the greater threat is a ship anchor striking the pipeline.    The alternatives considered range from an expensive $2 to $3 billion new pipeline that avoids the Great Lakes altogether to constructing a new section of the pipeline across the Straits in a trench or tunnel. That alternative would cost between $30 to 150 million, according to the analysis.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Our Canadian friends at Enbridge Energy may have a Trump problem with their Line 5. You’ve heard about Line 5 by now. It’s the pipeline – laid in the mid '50s – before the Mighty Mac connected the Upper and Lower peninsulas.

Just a few months ago, tiny patches of coating were said to be worn off the pipeline. Now the company is telling the state and anyone else who cares – and in the Great Lakes State a lot of people care – there’s more missing.

A dive team works on Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It’s been a steady drip-drip-drip of revelations from Enbridge Energy about its Line 5 — the oil and gas pipelines running beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The latest revelation is that there are more spots where the protective coating has worn off — lots more spots, even though a year ago we were told there weren’t any coating gaps.

The latest admission from the Canadian energy company drew a quick response from a plainly exasperated Governor Snyder, who called Enbridge’s “lack of transparency” to be “deeply troubling.”

But what are we hearing from Michigan's business leaders?

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

This week, Enbridge Energy reported the protective coating has worn off of it's Line 5 pipeline in more spots than previously revealed. Line 5 is the oil and gas pipeline that runs under the straits of Mackinac. The new report says there were 8 spots of bare metal and seven of them will be repaired before winter sets in. A state commission has called Enbridge to testify next month.

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about possible solutions.

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 something that seems to have united state officials and representatives across party lines and despite political disagreements.

That something is a new safety report from Enbridge Energy on Line 5, the pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

State officials say they’re troubled by a new safety report from Enbridge Energy on Line Five. The report says there are more spots that have been laid bare to the metal because its safety coating has worn off.

Enbridge Energy delivered that report to state officials Monday.

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The principle a doctor is supposed to follow in dealing with patients is, “first, do no harm.” The most valuable natural resource this state and region has is undoubtedly the Great Lakes. They contain twenty percent of the world’s surface fresh water. They mean billions of dollars every year in recreational boating and fishing and other activities.

These types of supports have been installed over the last 12 years.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy reported today that damage to anti-corrosion coating on Line 5 occurred in 2014, but the company never told the state. The reason? Enbridge engineers who found the damage never told higher-ups about it. They said the pipeline was safe, so there was no reason.

But state officials say this is one more instance of Enbridge not sharing information about the line that carries oil and gas beneath the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac.

bill mckibben
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Despite consensus among most scientists that climate change is real, and that humans are contributing by burning fossil fuels, there is still resistance to actually doing something about it.

Oil, gas, and coal companies are fighting it. So are businesses that rely on fossil fuels, and politicians who are more worried about the economic costs today than they are about threats to life and the economy down the road.

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

Monday's meeting of the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board was filled with worry about the condition of Line 5, the two 64-year-old Enbridge pipelines carrying oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge recently revealed there are areas of the pipeline where the protective coating has worn off. At first, the company said the areas were "Band-Aid" sized. But then, the story changed.

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

Earlier this week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette officially confirmed what everybody knew: He is running for governor, or more exactly, for the Republican nomination next year.

When he made his announcement, he said a version of what all politicians say; he is doing this, not for himself, but for the people, for all of us. Well, I know a good way he can start to prove that to us and help his candidacy at the same time:

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

Michigan’s energy chief says Enbridge downplayed the significance of damage to the protective coating on its oil and gas pipeline that runs under the Mackinac Straits.

Parts of the coating were removed while workers installed safety anchors on a portion of Line 5 that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The patches where the metal was scraped bare are close to a foot in diameter. That's much larger than Enbridge initially reported.

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 ordering Enbridge Energy to take swift action to fix portions of the Line 5 energy pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge reported to the state that small portions of enamel coating were accidentally removed in two places. The coating protects the oil and gas line that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac from corrosion.

Melody Kindraka of the state Department of Environmental Quality says there’s no immediate threat to the Great Lakes, but it’s concerning that the problem was the result of human error.

Mackinac Bridge
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

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.

The Michigan Supreme Court this week said “not yet” to a group trying to stop fracking in Michigan.

The group, The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, is now on its third attempt to get a question on the ballot to ban the controversial process used to drill hard-to-reach pockets of natural gas.

Mackinac Bridge
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.

sign that says flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality sued the City of Flint this week. The state says the city council's refusal to approve a long term deal to buy water from a Detroit-area system endangers a public already troubled by a lead-tainted water crisis. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the lawsuit filed by the state agency that's been blamed for much of Flint's water crisis.

Mackinac Bridge
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.
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.
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.

Mackinac Bridge
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.

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