Members of the National Wildlife Federation are calling on oil giant Enbridge -- to shut down one of its aging pipelines under the Great Lakes.
The 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference won't officially start until tomorrow, but the some of the big political players are here. Some are hosting a reception at the Chippewa Hotel for those in support of action being taken on oil pipelines running through the Great Lakes.
Line 5, is a pair of Enbridge pipelines, pumping 23 million gallons of crude oil and other materials a day from the Upper Peninsula to the lower.
The line is 63 years old, and some say past its expiration date. University of Michigan studies show a break would be detrimental to tourism, wildlife and drinking water for Mackinac and beyond. At the meeting Wednesday night, the National Wildlife Federation, and Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities of Traverse City, teamed with other groups to discuss the need for swift change.
"They didn't know that they'd had a break in the Kalamazoo River for 17 hours," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan). "And the damage that was done by that was terrifying. Think about what would happen up here on these waters. They have given us nothing to assure us those pipelines are safe."
"There are right and there are wrong places for oil pipelines to be," said Mike Shriberg of the National Wildlife Federation. "The Straits of Mackinac which the University of Michigan has called the worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes, is simply the wrong place for an oil pipeline.
"That's because of the economy and also because of the drinking water."
"We are primarily a tourism economy," said Jim Lively, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. "If we had an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac just the image to Michigan alone would be devastating."
Enbridge maintains that the lines are safe and properly monitored.
If you would like more background on Line 5, Enbridge, and the company's previous spill in Michigan, click on the links below.
Important discussion of oil pipelines alongside Mackinac Bridge this week
Study shows old oil pipelines are risk to Straits of Mackinac (UPDATED)
Safety questions raised about oil pipeline in straits of Mackinac