(MACKINAC ISLAND, MI.)–People getting off the ferry to attend the Mackinac Policy Conference Tuesday will be handed lollipops by protesters – with the plea “not to be a sucker” for Enbridge, the company behind the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. The conference, hosted by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Enbridge, draws the state’s biggest names in policy and business.
David Holtz, communication coordinator with the Oil and Water Don’t Mix coalition, says the 65-year-old pipeline is dangerous and should be decommissioned. “It’s had 29 different leaks and, about four or five years ago, we discovered through video that the National Wildlife Federation took in the Straits of Mackinac, that the condition of the pipeline there was something of concern,” he points out.
Gov. Rick Snyder, who leaves office in January, has asked Enbridge to come up with a plan to replace the pipeline, not get rid of it. The protestors are also calling for questions about Enbridge Line 5 to be included in the gubernatorial debate at the conference, scheduled for Thursday. Holtz says Snyder’s pro-business position gives Enbridge a shortcut and favors Big Oil over Michiganders’ health, safety and the environment.
“Instead of prioritizing protecting the Great Lakes, he feels a responsibility to help the oil industry continue making money,” Holtz asserts. “I just think it’s an orientation that comes from being a former CEO, and not really having the same priorities as most people in Michigan.” The pipeline shuttles 23 million gallons of Canadian oil per day from the town of Superior, Wis., through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Straits of Mackinac, ending at a refinery in Sarnia, Ontario. Holtz says his group believes the oil could be transferred through newer or less controversial pipeline systems.