Prepare to Vote: Enbridge Line 5 and the Candidates for Michigan Governor


Is Enbridge Line 5 YOUR issue?  Does what candidates say about what its future would be under their administrations help determine your vote in the August primary and November general elections? It mattered to our audience members Em, Steven and Daniel. They asked us to ask the candidates what they plan for the aging oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.
WDET and our partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative recently interviewed most of the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor of Michigan and asked them about those issues.
The three Democratic candidates and Republican Jim Hines say they would shut down the pipeline, while Republicans Brian Calley, Patrick Colbeck and Bill Schuette have suggested less drastic measures to guard against spills into the Great Lakes. 
Scroll down for videos and transcripts.

Other WDET Conversations and Reporting about Enbridge Line 5:

New Report Raises Questions About Snyder Administration Relationship with Line 5 Operator
Is Michigan’s Line 5 Deal with Enbridge Enough to Protect the Great Lakes?
Energy Chief Says Enbridge Downplayed Damage to Line 5 Safety Coating

The DJC reporters asked about policies and platforms on the Great Lakes and Line 5. Here’s how the candidates answered:

Republican Candidates

Brian Calley

Brian Calley said a tunnel would be a “logical approach” to keeping the pipeline but minimizing its dangers. “What are the feasible alternatives? You still have to move the fuel. Moving it by truck is worse. There are more risks involved with that as opposed to a pipeline,” he said.

Read Calley’s Full Answer

Patrick Colbeck

Patrick Colbeck said pipelines are the most efficient way to move fluids including oil. “Now having said that, you’ve got to make sure you’re maintaining the pipe. And you’ve got to protect it. And so I appreciate some of the discussions around protecting the pipeline either by burying it or putting a little shroud on the outside of it,” he said.

Read Colbeck’s Full Answer

Jim Hines

Jim Hines said he would break party ranks and work to close the pipeline. “I think the first thing we have to decide is, ‘Yes, we’re going to decommission it.’ How are we going to transport oil and so forth? That’s the second question. But the first question is how do we protect the Great Lakes and, in turn, protect the citizens of the state,” he said. 

Read Hines’s Full Answer

Bill Schuette

Bill Schuette declined the Detroit Journalism Cooperative’s request for a video interview, citing scheduling interviews. Click HERE to learn more about him and WDET’s coverage of his campaign. DJC partner Bridge Magazine had THIS REPORT about what Schuette has said and done related to Line 5.

Democratic Candidates

Abdul El-Sayed

Abdul El-Sayed said shutting down Line 5 would be a priority for him as governor. “This is the kind of conversation we can’t keep dilly-dallying about,” he said. “You’ve got these other folks proposing study groups and working groups — no. Shut it down and then let’s figure out what we do on the back end. But right now, we’ve got a ticking time bomb.”

Read El-Sayed’s Full Answer

Shri Thanedar

Shri Thanedar, calling it a “ticking time bomb,” said he would shut down Line 5. “The coating on it has gone bad,” he said. “if that line ever breaks and the Great Lakes get contaminated, you’re looking at somewhere around $6 billion of cleanup cost. And we certainly do not want another disaster like Flint in the State of Michigan.”

Read Thanedar’s Full Answer

Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Whitmer said she would be committed to pursuing legal action, if necessary, to close the pipeline. “We will be up against a company that has millions and millions of reasons to delay and keep that in there as long as they can,” she said. “We cannot wait. And we can’t wait for a tunnel to be built either. We have to get the threat out of the water now or as quickly as legally possible.”

Read Whitmer’s Full Answer

Other Issues

Find out what the 2018 Michigan gubernatorial candidates think about transit, transparency, marijuana, auto insurance and redistricting.

Image credit: Sandra Svoboda/WDET

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



This post is a part of 2018 Elections in Michigan.

On November 6, Michigan voters will decide who will be the state's new governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Some state House and Senate seats are up for grabs, and numerous initiatives are expected on ballots.

WDET is committed to providing honest, fair, inclusive coverage of Michigan's 2018 elections. Join us now and all the way to the voting booth to be an informed voter.


About the Author

Sandra Svoboda

Special Assignments Manager

Recovering Bankruptcy Reporter/Blogger looking forward to chronicling regional revitalization on-air, digitally and through community engagement.   Follow @WDETSandra

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