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Environmentalists push own plan to shut down Mackinac Straits pipeline


Tired of waiting for the state, environmentalists are offering their own plan for shutting down an oil pipeline that runs beneath the Mackinac Straits.

In recent years, concerns the aging pipeline could leak prompted calls from various groups to stop oil flowing through the pipeline. The Line 5 pipeline is owned by Enbridge Energy, which is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio.

Sean Mc Brearty is with the group Oil and Water Don’t Mix (OWDM). He says their plan is geared to meet Michigan’s needs, not the oil company’s.

“We believe the state ought to be looking at the alternatives to Line 5 for Michigan. Not the alternatives for Enbridge to be getting all of their oil to market. Because Michigan actually benefits very little from Line 5,” says McBrearty.

Attorney General Bill Schuette, who’s also running for governor, said back in July he wants "specific and definite timetable" for decommissioning Line 5.     

But six months later, there’s still no state plan.

Earlier this month, the state entered into a contract with Michigan Technological University to perform a risk analysis on Line 5 that will evaluate Enbridge’s liability for a worst-case-scenario pipeline spill and the impact it would have on Michigan’s environment and economy.

“As the state awaits the completion of thorough analyses of Line 5 to determine the best course of action, the current agreement in place with Enbridge provides additional transparency and measures Enbridge must meet in order to keep the pipeline operating safely,” says Tanya Baker, a spokeswoman for Gov. Snyder.

Baker says a shutdown of the pipelineis not off the table. 

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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