Environmentalists Hopeful for Line 5 Legislation, Concern For Pipeline Leak

Environmentalists are happy to see action in Lansing about Line 5.

They’re concerned about what a spill would do to Great Lakes’ shorelines.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist John Harrington have more details on the potential environmental damage of a pipeline leak.

"This state is the Great Lake State and if it’s covered with oil, we’re going to lose that reputation really quickly," Freshwater Future executive director Jill Ryan said. 

Local environmentalists hope legislation aimed at having a third party analyze Line 5  in the Straits will answer questions about how safe it is.

Freshwater Future in Petoskey says an oil spill in the Straits would be catastrophic.

"It could be devastating, not only to the shorelines, obviously the tourism. You’re not going to swim in that," Ryan said. "This is a flyway for migratory birds, duck hunting is huge, the fisheries. The fisheries are all along the flooded coastlines. That’s where these oil deposits would happen."

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians agrees that wildlife ecosystems are at a huge risk if a spill occurs.

"It definitely has damaging impact on the fish health," LTBB environmental services manager Daugherty Johnson said. "Direct contact with it would be toxic to the fish."

While Line 5 provides an energy resource, what a leaking pipeline would do to the state’s natural resources is too much of a threat for some.

"This line has been in place for a long time," Johnson said. "It’s lived its useful life expectancy and it’s just a danger waiting for something to happen." 

"We all understand we still need gas, we still need petroleum, but I think how we transport that needs to be safe," Ryan said. "Especially when we’re talking about 20% of the world’s fresh surface water."