Published April 29, 2016
WASHINGTON — The Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, an inter-tribal organization representing all 35 federally-recognized Tribes located in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa, called for the immediate closure of Enbridge Line 5 situated under the five mile stretch underneath the Mackinac Bridge. The group, meeting in Washington, DC this week, called for the immediate shut down on Line 5.
Aaron Payment, Acting President of MAST and Chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, relinquished the chair seat in order to make the motion to enact legislation to formally oppose the continued operation of Enbridge, Line 5 Across the Straits of Mackinac. The motion was passed unanimously.
“Our waters are sacred to the original people as we have depended on these glacial waters of the Great Lakes for sustenance since time immemorial. Our waters represent over 20 percent of the surface fresh water in the world. Millions of people and natural resources depend on this water to survive. A spill is imminent,” proclaimed Payment.
Frank Ettawageshik, former chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians added, “The Lakes ecosystem has a profound effect on regional and global weather. Protecting these waters is both a sacred duty and a practical necessity”.
Nearly 64 years ago, a dual pipeline was placed under the Straits of Mackinac to carry petroleum products. The Straits connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. Commonly known as Line 5, this pipeline is owned and operated by a company called Enbridge. Similarly aged Enbridge pipelines have ruptured and caused extensive environmental damage, including at the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan (Line 6) which spilled a million gallons of oil at a cost estimated at over $1 billion. This was a closed system. The Straits area represents a greater risk and costs as it is not contained.
The Michigan Attorney General has stated that if this pipeline were to be proposed today, it would not be able to get the necessary permits. A large diverse group of local governments and organizations have joined in a growing chorus of voices calling for Line 5 to be shut down due to the peril in which it puts the Great Lakes water resources.
Payment concluded, “the State and Local Politician’s (including tribal) dereliction on this issue is untenable. What are they waiting for? A spill would mean the end of our fisheries. Our Tribal Commercial, Subsistence and Sports Fishers deserve better.”