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Bill could shut down Mackinac Straits oil pipeline

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.

An oil pipeline running beneath the Straits of Mackinac could be shut down undera billin the legislature.

The company that operates the pipeline insists it’s safe.

Nevertheless, State Senator Rick Jones wants a third party analysis of Line 5. If the analysis finds the risk of a break is too high, under Jones’ bill the pipeline would be shut down.

“I don’t trust a company from Canada to tell us they have inspected the lines in Michigan waters and insure that we’re safe,” says Jones. 

Jones points out another one of the company’s pipelines ruptured near Marshall in 2010.  Roughly a million gallons of crude oil seeped into the surrounding soil and a nearby creek.   The oil eventually fouled a portion of the Kalamazoo River. 

Enbridge spent more than $1 billion on the cleanup.  Part of its response to the Marshall spill was to buy up homes in the affected area.  Sen. Jones says one of the homes the company bought belonged to his mother-in-law.

For 64 years, Line 5 has delivered oil from Alberta’s oil fields through Michigan to a refinery in Sarnia, Ontario. 

Enbridge released a statement after Jones’ bill was filed:

“We believe the steps the state is taking to make sure that Michigan’s pipelines are operated safely and reliably are very important. We are working with the state and continue to provide information as requested on Line 5, our operations, our ability to respond effectively should an incident occur, and our commitment to prevention through a robust integrity and maintenance program.”

Senate Bill 292 has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for consideration.

In full disclosure, Enbridge is a financial supporter of this station.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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