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National Wildlife Federation Lawsuit Targets Mackinac Straits Pipeline

Mackinac Pipeline Line 5
Greg Varnum/Wikimedia Commons
Mackinac Bridge from Straits of Mackinac during tour on the Straits Area Tour Company's Ugly Anne

The National Wildlife Federation says it’s making plans to sue the federal government. The environmental group says the US Department of Transportation is not enforcing a law that requires “worst-case” disaster plans for underwater pipelines to be on file.

The National Wildlife Federation’s Mike Shriberg says the government must enforce the rule or shut down oil and gas pipelines like the one operated by Enbridge Energy beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

“Right now, the pipeline operators do not have an official plan to deal with a worst-case scenario, which leaves our iconic waterways and our economies at risk,” he said in a conference call with reporters.

Enbridge is not a target of the lawsuit, but its 62-year-old Line 5 light oil and gas pipe that runs beneath the straits is. Shriberg said NWF attorneys discovered the issue while researching its options regarding the pipeline.

“We discovered a startling fact,” he said. “The agency responsible for overseeing pipelines in this country has neglected for more than 20 years to do its job as mandated by law.”

NWF says the law was passed following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration did not reply to a request for a comment on the notice of intent to file a lawsuit. But Enbridge says it files disaster plans with the government. 

Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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