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Instead of working to shut down the Enbridge Line 5, Senator Gary Peters gets more money for the military to study the effects of oil spills in the Great Lakes

November 4, 2021

I recently received the following E-mail from Senator Peters:

The Great Lakes are more than an economic engine and ecological treasure: they are simply in our DNA as Michiganders. That’s why I was alarmed when the Coast Guard told me that they were unprepared to deal with oil spills that occur in freshwater environments – and that more science and research was needed around the issue. This puts the Great Lakes, and the businesses and communities that depend on them, at risk.

As a result, I set out to create a new Coast Guard National Center of Expertise – to help us learn more about cleaning up oil spills in freshwater. After my bill establishing the Center was signed into law, I secured the funding needed to get the Center up-and-running.

On the Senator Peters’ website, it states that he secured $4.5 million for this project, which will be a collaboration between a few universities and the US Coast guard. Nothing is his E-mail or his post from October 21st, says anything about the Enbridge Corporation and its history of previous oil spills in the Great Lakes region, particularly the massive Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

The Detroit News reported on Peters securing $4.5 million for the Coast Guard, plus they cited Peters as saying that the new research center had to “be near critical crude oil pipeline infrastructure.” However, once again, the Enbridge Corporation is not mentioned in the article.

MLive also reported on the new research center and did mention Line 5, but made no mention that it was owned and operated by the Enbridge Corporation. The article does quote a few environmental groups, along with a comment from Whitney Gravelle, chairperson for Bay Mills Indian Community, who stated:

“While I am happy that they’re undertaking the work, I think it also highlights the current dangers that we are in, which is that we don’t have a proper response to oil spills in freshwater here in the Great Lakes, and yet we have a pipeline running through our waters in the Straits of Mackinac.”

What is instructive about the MLive post from October 20, is the fact that it doesn’t mention the action that took place on the same day, where an activist actually shut down Line 5 before being arrested.

For years there has been an effort to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline in Michigan, which has wide support throughout the state. If Senator Peters really wanted to do some good, why is he not calling for the complete shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 3 and Line 5, both of which will negatively impact the Great Lakes and further the climate crisis. Securing another military contract will do nothing to reverse course in the fight against Climate Change. We don’t need to be better prepared to respond to Enbridge oil spills in the Great Lakes, we need to prevent them from ever happening again. The only way to do that is to shut down Line 3 and Line 5 immediately.

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