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Ontario government backs controversial pipeline that threatens the Great Lakes

Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault

Ontario’s Energy minister Glenn Thibeault has publicly stated his support for Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.

The Line 5 pipeline transports up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude oil, and natural gas liquids. The pipeline, built in 1953, runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet.

Maude Barlow has stated, “A March 2016 study found that 1,160 kilometres of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada are considered potentially vulnerable to a Line 5 spill. There are many Indigenous territories around the lakes and the St. Lawrence River Basin with governance and treaty rights, who will also be affected if there’s a spill. Under the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, governments are required to obtain free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous peoples decisions or projects affecting water in their traditional territories – just like the Line 5 pipeline.”

In his two-page letter to the Michigan Agency for Energy, Thibeault says, “Enbridge’s Line 5 is a critical piece of infrastructure to Ontario, it’s petrochemical industry in Sarnia and the Great Lakes region on the whole.”

Thibeault fails to refer to the danger to the Great Lakes or make any mention of the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent. His letter is significant because Michigan is currently accepting comments on a plan to decommission the pipeline.

Two contractors – Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems and Det Norske Veritas – are studying the financial risks of an oil spill.

MLive reports, “[Their] conclusions are supposed to help inform the state on what, if any, next steps it should take regarding the operation of Line 5, which is unpopular with many people who see the pipeline as an environmental threat to the Great Lakes. …The public can respond to draft report comments online until Aug. 19. The Michigan Agency for Energy, Attorney General’s Office, Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Natural Resources will review the final reports, which are due sometime in the fall.”

Our Michigan-based ally FLOW has been critical of the Dynamic Risk ‘alternative analysis’ report given “The consulting firm’s vice president has an extensive history of working alongside of, and in support of, Enbridge.”

The Council of Canadians fully supports FLOW’s campaign demand that “the State of Michigan must terminate the easement allowing Enbridge to use Lake Michigan’s lakebed for the pipelines. The state has the authority and the responsibility to do so to prevent a catastrophic oil spill.”

Furthermore, we call on Thibeault to publicly retract his comments in support of the Line 5 pipeline. Please join us in telling him this by retweeting this tweet.

The Council of Canadians first called on Michigan and Ontario to shut down the pipeline in November 2013.