July 12, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: State’s Line 5 Agreement Gives Enbridge Special Treatment

Tuesday, July 11, 2016

State’s Line 5 Agreement Gives Enbridge Special Treatment
 Pipeline Giant To Get Access to Final State Recommendations Ahead of Northern Michigan Communities & Public

Media Contact:  David Holtz 313-300-4454/david@davidholtz.org

LANSING—Leading citizens groups with the Oil & Water Don't Mix campaign criticized an agreement announced today by state officials that gives a Canadian pipeline conglomerate access to a final government report on controversial Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac ahead of the public in exchange for $3.5 million in funding from the company to pay for the report. 

Enbridge Energy Partners, Inc., owner of the twin pipelines running through the Straits, will have a minimum of five days to review a state government study of its pipelines in the Straits before the report is released to the public, according to an agreement between the state and Enbridge that was announced today in a press release from Attorney General Bill Schuette. 

"Today’s announced deal with Enbridge not only gives Enbridge a big leg up to publicly shoot down recommendations they don’t like; it also provides them an opportunity to lobby for changes in the report while the public is kept in the dark,” said David HoltzSierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair.  “It’s extremely disappointing that the governor and attorney general are continuing to grant concessions to Enbridge that call into question whether they are truly committed to ending the threat of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes.”

Gov. Snyder appointed an Enbridge executive and others with ties to the industry to a state pipeline advisory board that is charged with overseeing the state’s risk assessment and alternatives studies that are focused on the company’s Line 5 pipelines in the Straits.  Today’s agreement means Enbridge will also be funding the studies while getting special access to their recommendations for Line 5 ahead of the public, including local northern Michigan communities and residents who could be directly impacted by the study’s recommendations.

“Enbridge has huge profits on the line and it’s understandable that their priority is protecting the interests of their shareholders and executives,” said Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW (For the Love of Water). “But protecting Enbridge’s profits shouldn’t compromise protecting the Great Lakes.   It’s the governor’s job and the attorney general’s job to prioritize protecting the Great Lakes. Today’s agreement again calls into question whether that’s really going to happen. There should be no compromises on the integrity of the state's study when the consequences for Michigan and the Great Lakes are so enormous.” 

Since June, 2014 state advisory groups have been studying what to do about Line 5 in the Straits following intense public pressure surrounding the risky pipelines that were constructed in 1953 and carry up to 23 million gallons of oil a day through the turbulent Straits of Mackinac, including during the winter when the pipes are largely inaccessible under thick ice.

“At a time when the state should be prioritizing transparency and public input it has once again chosen to prioritize the interests of a private company, Enbridge, instead,” said Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer. “When it comes to something as precious as our Great Lakes we need to put our communities, our economy and our environment over profit. Shame on the attorney general for giving Enbridge this unworthy advantage over the people of Michigan.”

More than 50 local governments have passed resolutions urging action to protect the Great Lakes from a Line 5 oil spill.  Enbridge in 2010 was responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history in the Kalamazoo River.  Enbridge insists its pipelines in the Straits are safe.