By: Gage Percival
Summary. Line Five pipeline is an outdated financial investment for Enbridge Energy and an alarming risk to Michigan's economy. The pipeline pumps 23 million gallons of oil a day, running north and south throughout the state and across the Mackinac Straits. Enbridge continues to operate the pipeline illegally, despite orders from Governor Gretchen Whitmer given in November 2020 to shut it down in May '21. Should the 68-year old pipeline continue to operate, it could "generate $41 billion in climate damages between 2027 and 2070" according to a scientific witness for a court mediation between Enbridge and Governor Whitmer. Testimony from senior scientist and climate policy director Peter Erickson and Peter Howard, an economic policy expert, was provided who argued the continuation of the project would be inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement as well as the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan. Whitmer created the plan to develop new jobs and to set direction to making Michigan carbon neutral by 2050. Pumping oil throughout Michigan is no longer safe and sets us up for continued unnecessary reliance upon fossil fuel. Enbridge is likely to argue to the courts that there is no other alternative to fossil fuels, even though a study shows that Michigan could meet its energy needs from renewables and electrification. Recently the mediation between Enbridge and Whitmer ended without settlement, leaving the pipeline operational illegally and with expressed opposition to Michigan's future. In one act of collective action by the people, Water Protectors and activists took it upon themselves to temporarily shut down part of the line in Vassar Michigan. They notified the state and Enbridge prior and acted to turn the emergency shut off manually by hand and a wrench. The shut-off lasted only a day at most, however, is crucial to have occurred in demonstrating how people can take action and stand up to large corporations who put our safety and future at risk.
Why we should care? Michigan has many reasons to fear the black snake running through its land. These ecosystems are invaluable to us, and will easily be polluted should the pipeline burst anywhere along the 645 miles that it travels through the state.
This article is of interest because it highlights the blatant criminality of the energy companies. You can see how they operate illegally and are at odds with consumer interest, who will fight tooth and nail to ensure their continued operation and exploitation of the land. The article highlights a turning point in how this is a new direction for the state, having opposed the building and continuation of fossil fuel infrastructure.
Science in Action.
Peter Erickson is the Climate Policy Program Director at Stockholm Environment Institute US.
Peter Erickson has done a number of studies and projects. Recently he worked on greenhouse gas tracking in Seattle, the quality and quantity of potential greenhouse offsets in the US, and a study into the role of international offset in global climate mitigation. He takes interest in cap-and-trade programs, the contribution of consumption and behavior change to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, industrial policy, and cities. Peter is doing fine work in the ways of making it clear where our priorities should currently stand, in limiting the number of greenhouse gases that we put into our atmosphere.
This is really scary and super interesting! The fact that this pipeline is still running even with opposition from the people and the government is absolutely alarming. The fact that it is running illegally shows that corporations and businesses like these do not have the common good or the public interest in mind; they strictly only care about the money involved. This pipeline is so dangerous to our environment, and Enbridge continuing its use is extremely worrying.
It’s very sad how something that can easily go wrong is still being used due to lack of caring. Handling this situation now would lead prevent money needing to solve spent to clean up the mess, create jobs, and save our natural fresh water from contamination. It’s disappointing how much we Michigan-ians can take for granted this fresh water supply we have. I am glad to hear that Whitmer has taken action on this matter but it’s astonishing that nothing has come from it!
I’m confused as to why the pipeline is operating when Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, stated that it was illegal and gave direct orders to stop at once. This pipeline could create massive problems to our ecosystem, ozone, etc., but the pipeline owners act like there is no harm in having a pipeline that’s stretches over 645 miles of land.
Great article choice Gage! It seems like there is a lot of similarities in the way that Enbridge has handled both Line 3 and Line 5, and I agree with you that their blatant criminality is disgusting. It seems glaringly obvious that Enbridge has absolutely no regard for the environment or the population.
This is so upsetting! How is Line Five still operating against a governors order? This just goes to show the numerous climate change issues that are yet to be heard of by the general population and are overlooked. It's disturbing to think that there may be pipe line issues happening right nearby me and I'm still not aware. At least Whitmer plans to have the state carbon neutral in 30 years..we'll see how that goes.
Big oil companies have a large and long history of being able to get away unscathed from illegal activity all thanks to profit. Still, I am completely baffled that the black snake pipeline is operating so illegally even with jurisdiction orders from the state authority's to shutdown. It really makes you wonder whose hands are in whomst pockets. Continuation to place emphasis and profit on what should be deemed outdated source of of fossil fuels needs to end now versus later, especially if we are to make deadlines of being emission free and living a "cleaner" environmental life/impact.
This very concerning to read. This pipeline was supposed to be shut down about a year ago, but still has oil flowing through it. I don't understand this, especially considering that at this point, it is illegal that it's happening. This just demonstrates the lack of caring for the environment by the company in charge. The environmental effects from this pipe are dangerous, especially if it were to burst.
It's crazy what corporation owners will do to keep making themselves money, at the cost of the general public and the environment. It's not that hard to believe, just disappointing. What makes the matter worse is that they keep it running knowing that the system is rigged and they likely wont suffer too harsh of consequences.
This was a super interesting and quite upsetting read! Like many of the other comments are saying, I can’t believe Michigan is still allowing this pipeline to operate when we’re well aware of how horrible it is for so many things such as our ecosystems. I wonder what Gretchen Whitmer will do in response to this, seeing as though it is known that she does not want it operating.
This article blows my mind that this pipeline is running illegally violating the Paris Climate Agreement as well as the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan and is estimated to cost 600 billion or more dollars if it cracks anytime soon, which it is predicted to. I loved to see that locals that know the risk of the pipe cracking and did a forced emergency water shut off to stick it to the, even if it only lasted less than an day. Especially seeing the interactions this pipeline had with the governor by just simply saying they would not turn it off even as they are illegally running it already. I want to know why they just have not been shut down yet!!!!
I can't believe the pipeline is running even with government orders to shut it down. The environmental damage this will continue to cause if it isn't stopped is disgusting. Whitmer has created a plan to continue without the pipeline and make Michigan carbon neutral, but of course oil companies don't like that and continue to operate the pipeline. The pipeline should not be able to keep illegally running like this.
This article is really eye-opening showing how energy companies can do almost anything they want without repercussions. They hold so much power because everything we do revolves around electricity and the generation of it. I looked into this issue further and it turns our the Enbridge does also have renewable energy assets, however, they are probably less profitable and it is not worth shutting down existing pipelines to implement more renewable energy.
One of the greatest assets about Michigan is our beautiful scenery and our healthy lakes. To have this pipeline put those characteristics at risk is foolish, especially if Governor Whitmer already told the pipeline that is has to shut down. It make you question how much power these large companies have in the government, because illegal actions are immediately stopped usually.
As I have seen has been a trend with a lot of these posts, it's the large companies driven by money that continue to destroy our hopes for an environmentally safe future. I can't believe Enbridge is still running illegally, and that they really have no care for the potential destruction their pipeline could cause. We have seen time and time again the effects of pipelines bursting, and how harmful they've been to wildlife and the environment. Let us hope this operation is stopped before it becomes a devastating news headline.
At the risk of coming across as a radical, I must say that I strongly believe that fines have been shown time and time again to not be enough of a deterrent for acting in a manner that is directly harmful to the population and the environment. We saw this with Dupont's PFAS coverup, Volkswagen's diesel emission scandal, Exxon's $30m campaign to incite climate change denial, Line 5, as well as countless other scandals that are potentially not even known about. All of these companies (I believe) have profited more than the fines levied against them. If there is still a potential to make money (even after fines) by breaking the law, how is it truly illegal? I hope, for the sake of this planet and everyone on it, that we can eventually come to some sort of solution to prevent companies from knowingly harming people and our future for the sake of profits.
An interesting and divisive topic! How can these companies continue to pursue this business when the people and the government do everything they can to stop it. I think this entire debacle is another example of why we need to modernize our infrastructure and switch to green energy.
This article was very upsetting to read. It's actually insane that this pipeline is still in use, even though the government has ordered it to be shut down. This is especially concerning due to the awful effect that the pipeline will soon have on the environment. It's crazy that it has to come to civilians trying to solve the issue themselves, like manually shutting down the pipeline.
This is horrifying to think about. Not only is it disturbing knowing there's a massive pipeline that could burst at anytime running through this beloved state, but the fact that residents and the state government tried to shut Enbridge down and they continue to run illegally despite knowing the backlash and pollution and harm to the environment the company is causing. It's crazy but also brave that people were gathering and threatening to turn the emergency shut off by hand.
I honestly don't hear much news being reported on Enbridge's line 5, and it is really shocking to hear that it is still in operation. Despite being told by the government to end operations and protesters temporarily shutting down the line, Enbridge refuses to stop, showing this inconsiderate nature towards the environment. I wonder why it's so hard for the government to stop Enbridge, do they have good lawyers or are they just too powerful?
This has been a major issue I've been involved with for years! Not only is the pipeline past its life expectancy, but if it were to rupture, it would damage all parts of the water column and potentially spread to the four lower great lakes. This would have a long lasting impact on the environment and economy in Michigan.
I wish that more people would continue to take action like this. If that were the case maybe the pipeline would have been shut off for more than one day. Still, It is very upsetting despite the governor of Michigan's orders it is still running illegally with no legal percussion's. People who are so quick to destroy the environment at the expense of land that is not theirs disgust me.
Once again, we see greed clouding our judgment and decision making when it comes to the environment. Gage highlights an important feature of these corporations and that is that they mostly operate at odds with consumer interest. However, many “consumers” have taken things into their own hands – literally, with wrenches, turning the emergency shut off manually. This article should hit hard for many of us considering Line 5 runs right through our own backyards. Thanks for posting, Gage.
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