Protesters march on Lansing demanding the governor use her power to shut down the Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.
The crowd wanted their voice heard before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives her State of the State address Wednesday evening. They are pointing out the support they have to shut the line down as soon as possible.
“We’re asking the state to use existing authority, through the Public Trust Doctrine, to shut down Line 5 for now and forever without replacement,” says Sean McBrearty, legislative director for the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign.
They hand-delivered signed petitions to a representative of Governor Whitmer.
“We were shooting for 10,000 and we got a little more than 14,000 signatures,” says Greg Reisig, a protester from Elk Rapids.
The fear is of a major oil spill. The line is more than 60 years old and pumps nearly a million gallons an hour, any sort of spill would go right into Lake Michigan.
“It was a bad idea. It was something that was accepted in 1953 but if somebody were to propose doing that now, putting an oil pipe line at the bottom of Lake Michigan?” says Reisig, “It would never happen again.”
“The thing is already past its design of a lifetime,” says East Jordan protester Jack Slagtert.
“It would spoil the ground water too,” says June Thaden, a protester from Traverse City. “And then our whole economy would go splat.”
A utility tunnel is planned for the Straits, underneath the lake bed, and encompassing the lines.
Enbridge said today in a statement, “We believe the Great Lakes Tunnel is the best long-term opportunity to secure the energy needs of the state while making an already safe pipeline even safer.”
The crowd today asked what about the rest of the line?
“A four and a half mile tunnel is just a four and a half mile Band-Aid on a 645 mile problem,” McBrearty says.
For these folks it’s not an “if” but a “when” and they’d rather be in control of the problem.
“It’ll be shut down one way or the other,” Thaden says. “By bursting or by the state.”