New Poll: Michiganders Oppose Oil Pipelines Under Great Lakes

Michigan residents strongly oppose pipelines under the Great Lakes at the Straits of Mackinac, according to a new EPIC-MRA poll released today by the National Wildlife Federation. More than 6-in-10 residents, 63 percent, think that companies should not be allowed to operate pipelines that run under the Great Lakes, while only 22 percent support allowing these pipelines.

On the specifics of Enbridge Energy’s twin pipelines on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, known as Line 5, 66 percent of Michiganders believe that Enbridge should not transport oil under the Straits, while 27 percent believe that Line 5 should continue to operate. Majorities of both major political parties and independents believe that the company should “be required to use other pipelines that already exist that do not transport oil under the Lake Michigan.”

“Michiganders clearly want to protect the Great Lakes from a potential oil spill,” said Mike Shriberg, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Our elected officials have the backing of Michiganders to take action to protect our communities, economy, wildlife and Great Lakes from an oil spill disaster.”

The poll was sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and conducted by Michigan polling and research firm EPIC-MRA. The poll was conducted by telephone, March 19, 2016 through March 22, 2016, using landlines and cell phones. The sample size was 600 adults in Michigan. The margin of sampling error is ±4.0 percentage points.

The poll included two questions on oil pipelines:

In your view, should companies be allowed, or should they not be allowed to operate oil pipelines that run under the Great Lakes?
22 percent: Companies should be allowed to operate pipelines that run under the Great Lakes
63 percent: Companies should NOT be allowed to operate pipelines that run under the Great Lakes
15 percent: Undecided/Refused

A Canadian company now operates a 1,000-mile oil pipeline across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that transports millions of gallons of oil every day under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Please tell me which one of the following statements about this pipeline comes closer to your view. [ROTATE STATEMENTS] A: The pipeline should be allowed to continue to operate under Lake Michigan because the company says it is safe, it is regularly inspected and provides energy for millions of people. OR B: The pipeline operator should be required to use other pipelines that already exist that do not transport oil under the Lake Michigan, because the 63-years-old pipeline could rupture and spill millions of gallons of oil into the Great Lakes.

Which statement, A or B, comes closer to your view?

27 percent A: Which would allow the pipeline to continue to operate
66 percent B: Which would require the pipeline operator to use other pipelines that are available
7 percent: Undecided/Refused
The EPIC-MRA poll comes as the State of Michigan debates the fate of two 63-year-old pipelines that pump more than 23 million gallons of oil per day along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The state is in the process of assessing the risk the pipelines pose, as well as potential alternatives to the twin pipelines.

A recent comprehensive University of Michigan study found that more 700 miles of Great Lakes shoreline are within the area of potential impact from a Mackinac Straits pipeline rupture.

The pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac are operated by Enbridge Energy, the company responsible for the largest inland oil disaster in U.S. history near Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2010 that dumped more than 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, sickening people, harming wildlife, and hurting the area’s economy.

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