Pipeline or Pollutant?

Stephen Henderson speaks with Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette about Enbridge’s Line 5 embedded in the Mackinac Straits. Five years ago one of Enbridge’s oil pipes, Line 6, spilled 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and led to a $75 million settlement. Now there are calls for re-examining the Enbridge pipelines’ activities and a task force organized by Schuette and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant has released its recommendations for changes. Schuette speaks with Steven about his plans for the existing Enbridge Line 5 in the straits and what the State is doing about the future of oil in the Great Lakes.

  • Task Force Recommendations: Schuette says in the short-term the state will follow the recommendations and ban the transportation of heavy crude and Alberta Tar Sands as well as immediately mandate comprehensive liability coverage for the pipeline’s carrier. He also says a second pipeline is not an option and affirms that the current Line 5’s days are numbered.
  • People and Pollution: Under the new recommendations Schuette also seeks to involve the community in advisory councils and increase the transparency of oil transportation. This will give the people more involvement in monitoring the lakes and the activities of oil companies.
  • Future of the Great Lakes: In the long-term Schuette wants the state’s laws to parallel Federal ones. This would force the pipeline’s carriers to adhere to higher scrutiny in their quality reports and maintenance of the pipeline. He also plans to mandate research on alternatives for transporting light oils and propane that would help bring the pipeline closer to an end.
  • Stopping the Spigot: Schuette says unfortunately it isn’t a likely option at the current time because the state is still dependent on light oils and propane. Stopping the pipeline’s 500,000 gallon flow would mean shifting transportation to thousands of oil tankers on Michigan’s roads and waters. He notes future research still includes pipelines but will look at alternatives that do not put the Great Lakes’ fresh waters at risk.

Click the audio link above to hear their full conversation.

 

Image credit: Bill Rice Flickr CC

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