ENSURING THAT GREAT LAKES LIFE LASTS
Bridge Magazine of the Center for Michigan, in a 5 December 2014 Guest Commentary by Professors Jim Hill and Ken Winter, suggests a market-based approach to a possible awful oil spill in the Straits of Mackinaw. The 61-year-old Line 5 pipes of Enbridge Energy Partners could break. Of course, Enbridge claims the old pipes are perfectly safe. Remember also that old Enbridge pipes take crude oil across the upper St. Clair River from Port Huron to Sarnia and also are subject to a huge spill into Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River.
Hill and Winter suggest that Enbridge sign an agreement with the State of Michigan that Enbridge would be solely and strictly liable for any spill caused by their pipelines on and/or in water. Michigan gave Enbridge an easement on Michigan land 60-some years ago and Governor Snyder has authority along with the Federal government on those old pipes.
Michigan Radio interviewed Hill and Winter in their Stateside program on 23 December, 2014. They revealed other important details of the situation. Hill and Winter cast justifiable doubt on the Michigan government committee which, while well-intended, may be toothless and a simple delay of any real action. Hill and Winter prefer to avoid government-controlled efforts to fix the potential disaster short of getting the pipelines out of the water entirely. That interview is or was on the website of Michigan Radio.
Concerned people want action now; and not a lifetime later as risk increases and/or untold damage occurs. It has to be recognized that any spill in the waters of the Straits or the St. Clair River will be monumentally disastrous and cannot really be cleaned up anyway. The Enbridge spill in the Kalamazoo River has cost more than a billion dollars, some of which was taxpayer money. A Straits or St. Clair River spill “clean up” could easily cost several times that amount.
Concerned people need to contact Governor Rick Snyder at P.O. Box 30013, Lansing 48909. Ask the Governor to use his authority to get an airtight agreement with Enbridge to hold that company wholly and completely liable for damage from another spill. Secondly, ask the Governor to order steps to insure the complete integrity of the old pipes in the meantime while working to get the pipes replaced on land or bypassed altogether.
George C. Williston