U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for the shutdown of Line 5 in Michigan in a tweet on Thursday afternoon, simultaneously citing the climate crisis and supporting the Green New Deal.
Line 5 is a 66-year-old set of dual pipelines that transport natural gas liquids and light crude oil across the Straits of Mackinac. The tweet came on the nine-year anniversary of a million-gallon oil spill in the Kalamazoo River by Enbridge, the same company that owns Line 5.
9 years ago, 1.2 million gallons of crude oil spilled from Enbridge's 6B pipeline into the Kalamazoo River.
Today, with the climate crisis worsening, we must #ShutDownLine5 pipeline in Michigan and ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure. What we need is a Green New Deal.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 25, 2019
Sanders also said that the U.S. should “ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure.”
The 30-inch pipelines run for 645 miles from Wisconsin to Ontario, under the Straits of Mackinac and through Michigan, according to Enbridge’s website. The pipelines currently supply 65 percent of homes in Michigan’s upper peninsula with heat. Enbridge says that it monitors the lines around the clock.
“The Line 5 Straits of Mackinac crossing remains in excellent condition and has never experienced a leak in more than 60 years of operation,” the company says on its website.
This is not the first time that Line 5 has received criticism. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit against Enbridge in Ingham County Circuit Court on June 27. The lawsuit was filed in part as a response to a separate lawsuit filed by Enbridge against the state to enforce agreements made with the Snyder administration. Nessel also filed a claim to have Enbridge’s lawsuit dismissed.
The lawsuit seeks to have the pipelines decommissioned as soon as possible.
Nessel said that Line 5 poses an “unacceptable risk” to the Great Lakes.
“The location of the pipelines – which carry millions of gallons of oil each day and lie exposed in open water at the bottom of the Straits – combines great ecological sensitivity with exceptional vulnerability to anchor strikes,” Nessel said in a statement when she filed the lawsuit. “This situation with Line 5 differs from other bodies of water where pipelines exist because the currents in the Straits of Mackinac are complex, variable, and remarkably fast and strong.”
This risk came to the forefront after an anchor dragged across the pipeline in April 2018, damaging the pipeline and ripping through some steel cables, according to a statement from Nessel.
Line 5 has also received pushback from groups like the Straits of Mackinac Alliance, The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and the City of Mackinac Island.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected].
Photo “Bernie Sanders” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.