Coast Guard Bill Includes Sen. Peters’ Provision to Update Great Lakes Pipeline Oil Spill Response Plans

Ann Arbor, MI -- Yesterday, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2019 which included a provision authored by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) directing the Coast Guard to update their oil spill pollution response plan for the area around the Straits of Mackinac to account for a potential “worst-case” spill from a pipeline – particularly Enbridge’s Line 5 - in severe weather conditions.

Sen. Peters issued a press release yesterday, explaining:

Last year, in response to questioning by Peters, Coast Guard officials testified that they did not have the capability to contain and cleanup a large-scale oil spill in northern Michigan if it occurred during severe weather conditions, particularly if the spill were to originate from the Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Peters’ provision would direct the Coast Guard to revise their oil spill response plans to identify needed resources to address a worst case oil spill from an onshore pipeline in adverse weather conditions, specifically including ice cover and wave height. Supporters of his provision include the National Wildlife Federation, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation, issued this statement in response:

“The National Wildlife Federation thanks Sen. Peters for his diligence in ensuring that the Coast Guard has up to date oil spill response plans to protect our Great Lakes. Especially with the imminent threat posed by Enbridge Energy’s aging Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, where more than 400 miles of freshwater shoreline are potentially at risk from an oil spill, the citizens of Michigan need the swiftest and most complete response possible to what looks like an increasingly likely preventable disaster. Senator Peters is a consistent and strong champion for the Great Lakes, and we look forward to continuing to work with him.”

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