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Why we cannot rely on the Governor or the government to shut down Line 5

July 11, 2021

In early May, we reported on indigenous-led actions to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline, which carries tar sands oil.

At the same time Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer had told the Enbridge Corporation that it would be illegal for the company to continue to operate Line 5, after she revoked a 1953 Easement Permit. Since May 12th, the Enbridge Corporation has been illegally operating Line 5, despite the Governor’s position.

Enbridge’s response was to ignore the State of Michigan, continue to appeal this case in court and to announce that they were receiving lots of such for keeping Line 5 open from government bodies, Chambers of Commerce and even unions. 

The Enbridge Corportation has been illegally operating Line 5 since May 12, so what has the State of Michigan done? Did they send State Police officers or the Michigan National Guard to shut down Enbridge offices and the operation of Line 5? Absolutely not.

When President Biden recently visited Traverse City, did Governor Whitmer press him on getting the federal government to enforce the shut down of Line 5? Not that we know of. We do know that the Mayor of Traverse City spoke with Biden about Line 5, but there was not evidence that Biden would take a stand against the Enbridge operated pipeline. 

What we do know is this…….the Biden Administration sent a Department of Homeland Security helicopter to disrupt an indigenous-led protest against the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in early June. With that action, Biden signaled his full support for Line 3, which means the administration will most likely not take a stand against Line 5.

In addition, the Enbridge Corporation is continuing to push the Line 5 tunnel, which would be constructed under the Straits of Mackinac. The State of Michigan hosts its own online information about this project, with no indication that they will decline this proposal.

Therefore, we can reasonably conclude that we cannot and should not rely on the State of Michigan or the Biden Administration to shut down Line 5. In fact, what we should be doing is exactly what Indigenous communities are doing, which is to actively resist these tar sands pipelines. We need to learn from the Standing Rock resistance, we need to support and participate in the Line 3 resistance, and we need to be doing the same thing in Michigan to shut down Line 5. Relying on the government is a false hope. Direct Action is the solution!

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