Climate & Environment

Line 5 Activism

With your support, we can continue fighting to remove the environmental hazard of a 23-million-gallon-per-day oil pipeline submerged in the globally rare Straits of Mackinac.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Line 5?

Line 5 is a nearly 70-year-old pipeline that carries crude oil and natural gas liquids and lies along the bottom of the Mackinac Straits. The pipeline, owned by Enbridge, shows signs of age and stress and is a constant threat to the globally rare Mackinac Straits, the Great Lakes, and the livelihood of thousands of Michigan families. Enbridge is North America’s largest transporter of petroleum products and is the owner-operator of the pipeline that burst in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, causing one of the largest inland oil spills in the nation’s history.

Why isn't a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac the best solution?

Enbridge is proposing to build a tunnel beneath the Mackinac Straits bottomland to house the pipeline, but we remain opposed to this proposal for several reasons. One, the permitting and construction timeline will run several years and during that entire time, the nearly 70-year-old pipeline will continue to present a tremendous risk of an oil spill. The pipeline also involves approving a major oil infrastructure project at the very moment when scientists insist the world must take rapid action to decrease the use of fossil fuels for the sake of future generations and life as we know it. Also, Michiganders and their precious waters bear the risk of the pipeline, while essentially all of the profits and benefits go to Canada.

Why does Michigan have authority over an oil pipeline? Doesn’t the federal government oversee pipelines?

Because Michigan negotiated an easement with Enbridge for the bottomlands on which the pipe rests, the state can assert its rights as a landowner, and if easement conditions are not being met, then the state can take action. Also, the public trust doctrine governs allowable Great Lakes activities and forbids those that diminish the value of the lakes for other users, and an oil spill would destroy the water’s value for all others.

Doesn't Michigan depend on Line 5 for oil, and doesn’t the U.P. need Line 5 for propane?

There is only one oil refinery in Michigan and it is designed for heavy crude, which is not allowed to be transported in Line 5. While it’s true that Line 5 does carry a significant portion of Michigan’s propane, alternative means of transportation—like truck and rail—are used all over America to transport propane and can likewise be used in Michigan and throughout the Upper Peninsula.

How has Groundwork been involved in the Line 5 issue?

Groundwork was central to focusing attention on the environmental and economic risk posed by Line 5 and organized the first big protest gathering at the Mackinac Straits in 2013, with international environmental leader Bill McKibben. We have remained involved, helping form three influential advocate groups—Oil & Water Don’t Mix, Great Lakes Business Network, and Friends of Mackinac Bridge—authoring a widely quoted whitepaper “Canadian Profits, Michigan Risk,” organizing opposition in the Upper Peninsula and meeting with state legislators.

The Line 5 issue has become such a big issue for so many groups, what is the best way to get involved or learn more?

Citizens can get involved via Oil & Water Don’t Mix, an outstanding and engaged advocate network devoted to stopping the hazard posed by Line 5 oil pipeline. Business owners and leaders are joining Great Lakes Business Network to make a difference by affecting policy. Groundwork participates in both efforts.

Take action!

  • Track the comment periods that are part of reviews by the Michigan Public Service Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers and share your thoughts.
  • Call or write your representatives to let them know you oppose both the current pipeline and the proposed oil tunnel—political insiders affirm that this kind of outreach matters!
  • Share your thoughts in your local newspaper and in online community forums to reach a broader audience.


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