Enbridge Pipeline 5

Austin Priebe (TC)'s picture

The Enbridge Pipeline 5 has been a highly negotiated topic among regulators and environmentalists. This scrutiny has derived from the fact that spillage would be so costly to not only clean up, but to the entire Michigan economy as a whole. For those of you who don’t know what the Enbridge Pipeline 5 is, it’s a pipeline that was built in 1953 which runs through the Mackinac straights. Every day 23 million gallons of oil flow through these pipes. The pipes are owned by a Canadian company Enbridge, Inc. and many environmentalists are concerned about the age and the potential for them breaking and spilling millions of gallons into the Great Lakes, which make up 21% of the world’s fresh water by volume.

The pipes have undergone much maintenance in the past few decades and many engineers have inspected the pipes, with reports stating that they’re overdue and should be replaced. In fact, the article states that since 1968, there have been 29 spills, resulting in at least 1.1 million gallons of oil spilled. To further understand why environmentalists and regulators are so concerned about a spill in the Great Lakes, a research scientist at University of Michigan Water Center states, “if you were to pick the worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes, this would be it.” The reason for this is due to the powerful currents and frequent changes in direction, causing the oil to quickly spread through the great lakes at various depths.

Having looked into the potential issues of Enbridge Pipeline 5 and thinking in a macro lens, what do you think is causing local politicians to continue to allow the flow of oil through these pipes? By allowing Enbridge to continue to utilize this pipeline, does it make you feel the Michigan government has been compromising our environment too much, more specifically, our water? Thinking more than just the physical environment, how else do you think a spill would affect Michigan as a whole? Do you think there should be more emphasis put on protecting our environment?