Water activists in Michigan urge Canada to stop supporting Line 5


Activists held a demonstration Wednesday to demand Canada backs Michigan's efforts to close the Line 5 pipeline in the Great Lakes. - LEE DEVITO
  • Lee DeVito
  • Activists held a demonstration Wednesday to demand Canada backs Michigan's efforts to close the Line 5 pipeline in the Great Lakes.

Water activists are calling on Canadian officials to back Michigan's efforts to close the Line 5 dual pipelines, which have spilled more than a million gallons of oil into the Straits of Mackinac and surrounding waters.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered Canadian natural gas company Enbridge Energy to close Line 5 in May, but they have ignored the order while challenging it in court.

Sean McBrearty, campaign coordinator for the Oil and Water Don't Mix Coalition, said Canada shares responsibility to protect these waters.

"You can protect our Great Lakes and our climate and support shutting down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, and you need to do so, or you can support Enbridge and its fossil-fuel agenda, but you can't do both," McBrearty asserted.

Activists and environmentalists gathered near Canadian consulates in Detroit, Chicago and Windsor to protest Canada's continued support for Line 5. And in Wisconsin, groups gathered at Lake Michigan in Milwaukee.

Jamie Simmons, director of engagement for the Michigan Climate Action Network, said in addition to the pipeline itself putting the Straits of Mackinac and other Great Lakes waters at risk for oil spills, continuation of Line 5 supports the burning of fossil fuels.

She argued in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, countries need to cut global emissions in half by 2030, and go net-zero by 2050.

"Achieving this goal is what Canada agreed to when it ratified the Paris climate accord," Simmons pointed out. "Allowing Line 5 to continue to operate, or to be replaced by a new oil tunnel, as Enbridge is proposing, is not consistent with that climate goal."

Enbridge and the state of Michigan are currently in mediation until Sep. 30. Canadian officials have lobbied the U.S. to keep Line 5 open, but the Oil and Water Don't Mix Coalition urged them to instead focus on a national energy policy to protect the Great Lakes.

Originally published Sept. 2, 2021 on Michigan News Connection. It is republished here with permission.

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