Line 5 - The Dirty Secret

March's calendar image, "Curtained Sunrise"

I love Lake Michigan, and clearly I love photographing it. But as much as the beauty consumes me, I have to mention the ugly occasionally.

Today I’m going to mention a glaring issue concerning the health, safety and the future of the Great Lakes: Line 5.

Owned by the energy company Enbridge, Line 5 is actually two pipelines that sit on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. These aging, deteriorating and vulnerable pipelines pose a major ecological threat to the entire Great Lakes basin.

Line 5 carries up to 20+ million gallons of light crude oil and natural gas liquids across the straits every day. If even one of these 60+-year-old pipes broke open, it would cause a massive oil spill. (For perspective, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was 10.9 million gallons. The environmental damage was extensive, and globs of oil are still found along the Alaskan coast—33 years later.)

Check out the resources below to learn more about Line 5 and the legal battles being waged right now to shut it down.

  •  The website of Oil & Water Don’t Mix, an organization dedicated to this issue. It is packed with information and actions you can take.

  •  An article that lays out “everything you need to know” on Line 5.

  • A 3-minute video of a pipeline inspection in 2012 (which Enbridge claims is “in perfect condition”).

  •  A 17-minute documentary called “The Dirty Secret at the Bottom of the Great Lakes.” If you have the time, this gives the whole story.

  •  A 5-minute video from the Great Lakes Business Network showing the range of businesses that would be impacted by a spill.