The Line 5 pipelines at the Straits of Mackinac—which Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has called on Enbridge to shut down by May 12—pose a multigenerational threat to citizens of the Great Lakes.
Take it from Sage, an 11-year-old from Oxford, Michigan, who chose to do her 5th grade final project on Line 5.
“My love for the Great Lakes,” Sage opens her essay.
“I was swimming in the crystal clear blue waters of the Great Lakes. Splashing in the refreshing water in my swimsuit and new goggles. It was a sunny day and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The golden sand on the beach shimmered when the sunlight hit it. I could see tiny little fish swimming around me. It felt like I was in a tropical paradise. I plunged into the water feeling refreshed and relaxed. As the big waves came towards my sister and I. We jumped into them feeling the coolness of the water. We swam out towards the big rock. When we got there, we saw Mom, Dad, Nana and Papa waving to us. We waved back as we stood on top of the rock. We cannonballed into the water, plunging in like someone putting ice cubes into a drink. Now imagine dark oily, dirty water with dead fish floating at the top. This could happen if Line 5 is not shut down. Enbridge Line 5 needs to be shut down.”
Read the rest of Sage’s project below:
What Is Enbridge Line 5?
Enbridge Line 5 is an oil pipeline owned by the Canadian company Enbridge Energy Inc. The Line 5 runs underneath the Straits of Mackinac. It was built in 1953 and was only meant to last 50 years. Even though the pipeline is 68 years old today, and not in good condition, it still exists. Every day, Line 5 transports 22.68 million gallons of oil. The pipeline is 645 miles long. It transports oil to Sarina, Canada. So that means that the oil pipeline is not even benefiting Michigan, in any way shape or form. Line 5 should be shut down because according to Oil And Water Don’t Mix: Every day, nearly 23 million gallons of oil flow through two aging pipelines in the heart of the Great Lakes, just west of the Mackinac Bridge. Constructed during the Eisenhower administration in 1953, the two 20-inch-in-diameter Line 5 pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge, Inc., lie exposed in the water at the bottom when they cross the Straits of Mackinac” (Oil And Water Don’t Mix) This is just unsafe. This is a recipe for a disaster.
Six decades of metal being underwater has to cause some damage. It is covered in algae and other sea life. It is rusty. Since Enbridge Line 5 is so old it has had to have many repairs. Just like an old person, things age and require more maintenance. As people get older, they need more procedures, surgeries, and medicine. Enbridge line 5 is the end of its life. For example, in the article, (Oil And Water Don’t Mix) Enbridge installed several support structures under the pipelines in 2006 and again in 2010 and 2018, following the company’s oil spill into the Kalamazoo River.
Now, hundreds of supports elevate 3-miles of the pipeline off the lakebed into the turbulent current. This design was never approved and makes the pipeline unsafe. In other words the pipeline is very old and could rupture at any moment. Even though Enbridge has added updates to Line 5, the pipeline is still unsafe. What are they going to do with Line 5? Because of Enbridge’s past, there is a lack of trust in them. On July 26, 2010 there was a giant oil spill operated by Enbridge.
According to Wikipedia: “The Kalamazoo River oil spill occurred in July 2010 when a pipeline operated by Enbridge burst and flowed into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. A 6-foot break in the pipeline resulted in one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history”. When the Kalamazoo oil spill occurred almost 1,000,000 gallons of light crude oil was spilled. Because of that, the future of The Great Lakes right now should not be in the hands of Enbridge. As the Line 5 Pipeline ages, it increases the risk of an oil spill in The Great Lakes. If the Pipeline were to rupture in The Great Lakes, then it would cost more than $1.9 BILLION DOLLARS AT LEAST to clean it up! That is a lot of money.
Here is something to help you imagine $1.9 billion dollars better. According to: Research Maniacs “If you had $1.9 billion, you could buy 63,333 cars at $30,000/each or 9,500 houses at $200,000/each. If you were to travel 1.9 billion miles, you could fly around the world 76,302 times, or take a round trip to the moon 3,977 times.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan [has given] Enbridge 180 days to shut-down the Line 5 Pipeline PERMANENTLY. But Enbridge will not shut-down the Line 5 Pipeline without a fight. So until then, The Great Lakes will be at stake.
What Can Go Wrong With Line 5? And What Would Happen To The Surrounding Areas?
Not only is Enbridge Line 5 unsafe, but it also threatens many ecosystems and the Great State of Michigan. According to the Sierra Club: “The Enbridge company is playing with fire.” and I agree. The longer the pipeline stays, the longer we risk damaging The Great Lakes and other ecosystems. The Great Lakes ecosystems include a large variety of habitats and more than 3,500 different species of animals and plants. If the Line 5 pipeline were to rupture then, it would negatively impact people, the environment and animals. Here is an example: All living things need water to survive. So if oil were to spill in the water we drink we would die. Not just people would die, but animals would die too.
Here is another example: Let’s say that we had another source of water. We would be fine for now, but all of the fish and animals would die. So then we would run out of food. If we dont start taking action, then the examples that I talked about could become the reality. The Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline is unnatural and unsafe.If Line 5 where to rupture then we would be DOOMED. First things first, we would lose 20% of the world’s fresh surface water. Second of all, everything in The Great Lakes would be dead! The fish, the and all of the ecosystems. A lot of bears and deer and a bunch of other animals would die too. That would happen because if they were to drink water from The Great Lakes after an oil spill. Then they would die because the water would be toxic. If Line 5 were to rupture, then the oil would spread through the whole Great Lakes. That would happen because all of The Great Lakes are connected and have strong currents. Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario would all be flooded in oil if Line 5 were to rupture. Michigan would lose all tourism as no one would go to Mackinac Island, Traverse City (The Cherry Capital Of The World), and other popular lakefront destinations. The economic impact would be felt for decades and recovering the state would cost billions of dollars. Michigan’s slogan “Pure Michigan”, would turn into “Crude Michigan”. That slogan does not have as good a ring as “Pure Michigan”. All outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, hunting and lots of others would disappear forever. Imagine oily, dirty water. With dead fish floating at the top and black greasy beaches with brown foam floating at the top of the water. Birds that are covered in oil drying skin and feathers being polluted.
This could become Michigan’s reality if we don’t take action and shut-down Line 5 today.