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The Fight against Enbridge’s Line 5 and the Future of Climate Justice in Michigan Part II

December 10, 2018

Last week, in Part I, we looked at what the State of Michigan is doing to support the Enbridge Corporation’s Line 5 project, with the recent decision to provide $4.5 million of taxpayer money to construct a tunnel under the lake to connected the lower peninsula with the upper peninsula.

We discussed the Enbridge Line 5 project within the context of recent reports on global Climate Change, which states that current fossil fuel consumption needs to be reduced by at least 50% within the next 12 years or humanity will not be able to reverse the global warming trend. 

There are two additional reports that are also rather alarming as it relates to Climate Change. One report, published in the journal Nature, shows that the Greenland Ice Sheet hasn’t melted this fast for more than 7,000 years.

The second recent report comes from the US Global Change Research Program, which published its Fourth  National Climate Assessment. The summary of findings in this report are rather sobering, which includes this statement:

Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.

With all of this new information and analysis, the logical conclusion that one could draw , especially as it relates to Michigan, is that Line 5 cannot continue to operate and must be shut down.

Climate Justice and Resistance to Line 5

Many of the mainstream environmental organizations don’t seem to have the urgency around Climate Justice, particularly when it comes to resisting Enbridge’s Line 5. The Michigan Environmental Council in their Energy and Climate Change section, has some information about Line 5 and its risks, but there is no clear call for it to be shut down and no clear steps and actions that need to be taken for it to be shut down. 

The Michigan Sierra Club has great information about Enbridge’s Line 5 on their main page and even more educational material on the pipelines section. However, the only actions that the Sierra Club is encouraging people to take to Shut Down Line 5 is to contact the Governor’s office, the State’s Attorney General and to sign a petition.

Closer to home, there is the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), which does not have any information about Line 5 easily accessible on their website. The only thing related to Climate Change that you can find quickly is a report about Grand Rapids and Climate Resiliency

The group FLOW (For the Love of Water), which is based out of Traverse City, also has a lot of great information on Line 5, like the graphic below, and a clear demand for the pipeline to be shut down. However, when it comes to taking action, they suggest signing a petition, writing Michigan lawmakers, getting your group to endorse shutting down Line 5, or putting a Shut Down Line 5 yard sign in front of where you live. 

The only group that we have come across that advocates anything other than signing petitions or pressuring state lawmakers is the group known as Anishinaabek Camp – Shut Down Line 5. This is an indigenous-led effort that is made up of Anishinaabek people, many of whom were involved with the indigenous resistance at Standing Rock. They are advocating for direct action to shut down Line 5 and have set up a base camp in Levering, Michigan, just south of Mackinac City.

The group is engaging in rallies, educational work, but more importantly they are using direct action as the larger tactic, with plans to actively shut down Line 5 and not wait for lawmakers to make that happen. You can support them by contributing to their resistance work at this link. They also welcome visitors to the camp, but have made it very clear that this is an indigenous-led movement to shut down Line 5, like to many of the other campaigns that are taking place, which are also led by indigenous people. This seems to be the most important work that those of us who are allies can support, with our money, resources and solidarity. You can contact the group by going to their Facebook page

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