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National Wildlife Federation: Gov. Snyder Agreement with Line 5 Pipeline Operator a Non-Starter

Ann Arbor, MI – Today Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced an agreement with Enbridge Energy to attempt to keep Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac indefinitely by building a tunnel. The agreement with Enbridge—the company responsible for one of the largest inland oil disasters in U.S. history in the Kalamazoo River—comes as pressure mounts from environmental and business leaders to decommission the 65-year-old pipeline due to the risks an oil spill poses to one of the most iconic areas in the Great Lakes.

Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation and a member of Governor Snyder’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, said:

“While we will reserve judgment until we fully review the latest agreement, any agreement which does not begin with a plan to decommission Line 5 in the Straits within less than one year is a non-starter. We know that Line 5 is a threat to the Great Lakes and our way of life now whereas a tunnel, if it is ever built, is many years away. Michigan doesn’t need Line 5. As independent studies show, the small benefits Line 5 provides to our state can be replaced with no noticeable cost to consumers. The communities, businesses, water, and wildlife that would be lost if Line 5 ruptures cannot be replaced. The governor should be focused on protecting Pure Michigan today not at some theoretical future date. This agreement appears to be designed to protect Enbridge Energy’s interests in utilizing the Great Lakes as a shortcut to export their products mainly to companies outside Michigan.

“This agreement indefinitely extends the life of Line 5’s current Straits crossing while what is actually needed is an expiration date. There is only one solution which would actually protect our waters: beginning to decommission this aging pipeline in the Straits immediately. What the governor released today appears to be another non-decision and attempt to kick the can down the road. Worse yet, the governor is trying to saddle the state with a tunnel without any assurance of protecting the Great Lakes on any reasonable timeline.”

Shriberg’s official comments as a member of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, made in recommendation to Governor Snyder before this announcement, can be viewed here.

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