Midland, MI – Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 1:30pm – Over 60 demonstrators arrived at the home of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette earlier this afternoon to demand that Schuette take immediate action to shut down the Enbridge oil pipeline Line 5. Demonstrators from Earth First! hung a massive banner between two trees in Schuette’s front lawn that read “No Line 5: Pipelines Equal Ecocide.” Others in the crowd chanted, held banners, and held a mock funeral for Enbridge. Down the street another group hung a massive banner that completely covered two billboards which read “No Line 5 Pipeline”. By the end of the action over 20 police cars had assembled to harass the protesters into ending the actions. The protesters are demanding that Schuette use his authority under the Public Trust Doctrine, Article 10, and shut down Line 5 immediately in order to protect the Great Lakes.
Line 5 is a 63-year-old crude oil pipeline that runs across the Straits of Mackinac, west of the Mackinac Bridge. The pipeline is directly exposed to freshwater for 5 miles and crosses through 11 tributaries in the lower peninsula. Studies by David Schwab, an expert on hydrodynamics at the University of Michigan, show that up to 720 miles of Michigan’s shoreline would be at risk if Line 5 leaked. The pipeline is owned & operated by Enbridge, whose crude oil pipeline 6B ruptured in 2010, resulting in 1 million gallons of diluted bitumen spilling into the Kalamazoo River.
Last April, an environmental coalition of over 20 environmental groups sent Attorney General Schuette a letter detailing multiple ways in which Line 5 is operating illegally, in violation of its 1953 Easement with the State of Michigan. Despite this, Schuette continues to delay action on the pipeline, citing the desire to wait for a risk and alternatives analysis for the pipeline to be completed, which is expected to take months to years. Additionally, the every tribe whose territory is occupied by the state of Michigan has demanded that the pipeline be shut down meaning that its continuing operation is a direct attack on tribal sovereignty.
“Schuette knows Line 5 poses an immediate risk to the Great Lakes each day it is allowed to continue to operate,” says Plantain, an organizer with Earth First! “and yet he’s choosing to stall for another 1-2 years. Schuette is directly threatening all of life in our region and is putting us all at risk and we are going to bring the fight to his front lawn until he is held accountable.”
Numerous demonstrations and shows of opposition have been conducted to raise awareness about this pipeline, including petition deliveries, over 183 Michigan business and organizational groups supporting Line 5 to be shut down, letters to newspapers, bills to address pipeline safety, over 50 municipal resolutions being passed to show public opposition to the pipeline, and confrontations at policy conferences and spill response demonstrations. However, this is the first demonstration associated with Line 5 conducted at the home of a politician with the power to shut Line 5 down.
Frida, a resident of Michigan present at the protest, commented on the escalation of tactics. “If public officials continue to threaten our safety, then we will continue to threaten their security.”