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Campaign promises and Line 5

January 6, 2020

During the election cycle of 2018, then Gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer and candidate for Attorney General, Dana Nessel, both made the promise that they would shut down the Enbridge oil pipeline that runs through through the state and under Lake Michigan, also known as Line 5. 

It has been a year, yet Line 5 continues to carry millions of gallons of oil, putting the Great Lakes at risk.

Governor Whitmer at times has used rhetoric that she will close Line 5, yet she continues to have talks and negotiations with the Enbridge Corporation. Attorney General Dana Nessel has initiated some legal actions around Line 5, but there hasn’t been much coming from her office on how and when Line 5 will close

In fact, in a June 27 communication from Governor Whitmer, it reads: 

“The governor has never viewed litigation as the best solution to this problem, and for this reason she entered negotiations with Enbridge about the possible construction of a tunnel. Her reasonable requirement has been that the dual pipelines through the Straits cease operation at a date certain, after allowing for a period of transition. Enbridge, however, has insisted that it be allowed to run oil through the Great Lakes indefinitely. Rather than negotiating, Enbridge walked away and filed a lawsuit. Today, Governor Whitmer filed her response asking the court to dismiss Enbridge’s lawsuit. 

From this statement, it seems to this writer that Governor Whitmer is NOT opposed to Enbridge’s proposal to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. This is what the Enbridge has been pursuing for months now, with all of their advertising campaigns in Michigan, to get approval to build a tunnel under the lake and to continue to pump millions of gallons of oil. In addition to the advertising dollars that Enbridge is spending to convince the public, they are spending lots of money lobbying the Michigan Legislature, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

There are numerous environmental groups that oppose the proposed Enbridge tunnel, but their efforts to stop seemed to be limited to public education and engaging in their own talks with the Governor’s office. 

Have we not learned anything from Indigenous resistance to the current climate disaster? Every major battle against oil pipelines in the US and Canada are being led by Indigenous communities. These communities get the importance of doing Direct Action against companies like Enbridge, especially in the midst of the current climate crisis. Safety isn’t the only issue. We cannot continue to burn fossil fuels if we want to have a future for our children and for the non-human communities.

We cannot put our faith in elected officials. Over and over again they make promises, but rarely do they keep them. We must take matters into our own hands and organize for the kind of future that we want to have. We can’t vote our way to climate justice.

GRIID encourages you to watch the following two videos. The first puts the current climate crisis in proper context and the second video shows us an example of what it means to be a climate justice warrior. These are the struggles that we need to support and this is the kind of action we need to take.

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