Growing Great Lakes Business Network Makes Economic Case for Decommissioning Line 5

55 businesses urge state to develop immediate plan for alternative to Line 5

55 business leaders submitted a comment letter to the State of Michigan on December 22, 2017, urging it to develop an immediate plan for an alternative to Line 5. The leaders are part of the Great Lakes Business Network, launched one year ago, which has now grown from 10 to over 70 businesses. After years of seeing too little done about the threat of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline to the freshwater blue economy, business leaders formed the Great Lakes Business Network with the goal of protecting the Great Lakes and the economy, natural resources and way of life they support. The network has provided a critical business voice to the growing bipartisan interest to decommission Line 5.

55 Businesses Comment on State Alternatives Analysis

The Great Lakes Business Network comment letter on the state’s alternatives analysis notes that, to date, state commissioned reports and agreements favor the business interest of Enbridge, a Canadian company, over Michigan businesses.

“Every year, we take north of 400,000 people to Mackinac Island. They’re not going to go if oil coats the shoreline of the island, which affects my business, my 225 employees, and thousands of others in our community,” said Chris Shepler, Owner of Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry Service. “The state must focus on alternatives that put Michigan’s interests ahead of Enbridge’s and keep oil out of the Great Lakes, not under or through it.”

“Our family farm depends on Lake Michigan’s clean water, just a few miles from our orchards,” said Juliette King of King’s Orchards in Central Lake, Michigan. "This is our home, and the interests of northern Michigan communities like ours shouldn’t be subordinate to a Canadian oil company.”

"Clean waters are the economic life-blood of all of Northern Michigan: without it our economic engine will sputter to a halt,” said Charlie Wunsch, Co-owner and Publisher of Edible Grande Traverse magazine. “Enbridge profits from the transport of mostly Canadian oil to mostly Canadian markets while the citizens of Michigan bear the ecological and economic risk of this pipeline rupturing.”

Business Leaders Critical of Enbridge/Snyder Agreement

Members of the network have also been critical of Governor Snyder’s surprise agreement in early December to focus on a tunnel alternative and relying on Enbridge reporting for nominal additional safety measures, setting a final decision deadline on the future of the pipeline for August of 2018.

“Northern Michigan’s ‘Blue Economy’ is being totally overlooked by the entire Michigan executive administration, ignoring the public comments, action committees, and business organizations that vigorously oppose the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline operation,” said Rich Bergmann, Managing Partner and CEO of Lake Charlevoix Brewing Company. “The leeway that the Governor’s back room deal still provides Enbridge - without any regard to the extreme risk we bear as Michigan tax-paying employers and business operators - is totally unacceptable.”

“Michigan’s outdoor recreation economy supports 232,000 jobs and generates $26.6 billion annually. In no state is outdoor recreation so intrinsically tied to the health of its fresh water,” said Dan Sloboda, Chicago Environmental Coordinator for Patagonia. “We have a duty to protect it. The state cannot risk this multi-billion dollar industry and the freshwater of the region by allowing any pipeline, current or future, to travel beneath the Lakes."

“It is imperative that we seek an alternative to, and shut down Line 5 to protect Michigan’s most precious resource,” said Chris Sack, Co-Founder, Great Lakes Tea & Spice. “A compromise like the latest drafted by Governor Snyder and Enbridge is unacceptable to our Northern Michigan coastal communities as it leaves our coastline, and very livelihood, in peril.”

Great Lakes Businesses Concerned About Line 5 Risk to Blue Economy

Many of the businesses in the Great Lakes Business Network are part of northern Michigan’s blue economy, which is centered around the tourism, natural resources and way of life supported by the Great Lakes. In addition to providing a business case against Line 5 in formal comments, the network has hosted events on Mackinac Island where elected officials spoke out on Line 5 - including both of Michigan’s U.S. Senators - appeared in videos, wrote op-eds, and visited Congressional offices. The network is composed of more than 70 businesses in the Great Lakes region which rely on the tourism, outdoor recreation and services industry supported by the draw of the Great Lakes, including Bell’s Brewery, Patagonia, Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry Service, Cherry Republic, American Spoon, Lake Charlevoix Brewing Company, Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak, King’s Orchards, and recently joined Founders Brewing Company, Great Lakes Proud, The Gluten Free Bar, Sunshine Charters and Cherry Capital Foods.

"The threat Line 5 poses to our economy and our ecology is horrific and terrifying. There is no issue before us that requires a greater sense of urgency than to shut down Line 5 immediately,” said Joe Short, Founder and CEO of Short’s Brewing Company. “Our company philosophy is built around loving what we do and loving where we live and I'm scared that could be destroyed any minute. As a business owner and a citizen here in Michigan, I'm compelled to demand the protection of our natural resources. Water is the hottest commodity going. Why would we compromise it? Is it really worth it?"

"With 20% of the world's fresh water supply surrounding the communities that Higher Grounds Trading Co. calls home, we must do everything necessary to protect it from contamination and corporatization, always resulting from decisions driven by self-interest rather than the collective good of all,” said Chris Treter, Co-founder / Director, Higher Grounds Trading Co. “For that reason we demand our represented officials to do the right thing and shut down line 5."

"As an investment advisor who specializes in incorporating environmental and sustainability criteria as a tool to mitigate risk and maximize returns I understand that operating sustainably isn't just something that looks good in a portfolio, it is the wise thing to do,” said Kristi Avery, Partner at FOR Investment Partners. “Understanding how integral the Great Lakes are to our region’s economy and in creating healthy, prosperous lives, it is mind-boggling that we haven't already shut this pipeline down."

“The first time I stepped on the shores of Lake Michigan I fell in love.  That was over 20 years ago and I’m still not over the beauty of Lake Michigan,” said Janet Hessler, Owner of Betsie Bay Furniture.  “The loss of this beautiful resource would be catastrophic.  Not only for all of us who love it and live to paddle, surf, swim and bask in its presence but also for its own sake.”

The purpose of the Great Lakes Business Network is to coordinate and elevate the voices of business leaders to protect the Great Lakes from environmental threats. The network continues to meet with decision makers on Great Lakes issues and plans to grow the network and focus issues in 2018.  Learn more at


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