The Midwest faces a threatening, tangled web of oil industry pipelines. But residents from across the region are working together to put a stop to the dangerous infrastructure build out.
Each time a new pipeline is built, and every day that existing pipeline infrastructure is used to transfer dirty energy, we directly endanger our environment, communities and public health. New investments in 20th century energy lock us into future decades of burning fossil fuels, which worsens the climate crisis. That’s why the anti-pipeline movements across the Midwest, and across the country, are so important.
Michigan once again bears the brunt of the energy industry’s outdated, faulty pipeline infrastructure. In an unsurprising development, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a violation notice to Energy Transfer Partners after its Rover pipeline project spilled water containing gasoline into wetlands.
Rover -- a 713 mile pipeline -- is intended to carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Canada, but has been wrought with environmental hazards.
Last week, grassroots group Michigan Residents Against the ET Rover Pipeline discovered hundreds of thousands of gallons of water filled with gasoline spilled over a silt-fence reservoir and reported it to the DEQ. The water that Rover is pumping up from the easement and storing, now contaminated with gasoline, is spilling into the wetland that feeds into the Huron River watershed, a source of the Ann Arbor's drinking water.
This isn’t the first disaster to befall the ET Rover pipeline. Back in April, during construction, 2 million gallons of drilling fluid were spilled into an Ohio wetland.
Each time a spill like this occurs, the drinking water for Michigan residents is compromised. The DEQ’s remedy of the situation is to make the drilling company cease any unauthorized discharges, submit an application for a proper permit, and register the water withdrawal. To call these measures inadequate would be a vast understatement.
Photo provided by Michigan Residents Against the ET Rover Pipeline
Similar dangers lurk nearby, where Line 5, Enbridge Energy’s pipeline, pumps 23 million gallons of oil under Lake Michigan, daily.
Enbridge uses these parallel, 64-year-old deteriorating pipelines, to transport crude oil and natural gas across the Straits of Mackinac. This reckless scheme was determined to be too great of a threat to the drinking water of millions of Michigan residents many years back.
However, the line remains in operation -- even after research by the State of Michigan concluded that the pipeline poses an extreme risk human and environmental health. A Line 5 spill has the capacity to damage up to 700 miles of Michigan coastline.
A Line 5 spill has the capacity to damage up to 700 miles of Michigan coastline
Meanwhile, Michigan’s neighbor, Minnesota, is also fighting tooth and nail against Enbridge’s sister pipeline: Line 3. Clearly the failures of the already existing Line 5 haven’t been enough to deter Enbridge from pursuing the construction of a “replacement” pipeline.
While most Minnesota residents argue that it’s time to stop investing in oil and move towards 100% clean renewable energy, oil and gas companies lobby state and federal governments to subsidize their failing industry, rather than adopting or innovating more appropriate technologies.
Enbridge's preferred route for Line 3 runs through vital bodies of freshwater in northern Minnesota, threatening land where native tribes have treaty rights.
Similar to the resistance at Standing Rock, indigenous voices are leading the fight against each of these dirty energy infrastructure endeavors. And the resounding message is clear: The clean energy revolution is now.
It’s time to get off fossil fuels and stop investing in pipelines and all other dirty energy infrastructure. Instead, we’re pushing for 100% clean, renewable energy by 2035, and we have legislation to back it up.
As we fight pipeline after pipeline, we’re working simultaneously to build the movement to get off fossil fuels by passing the Off Fossil Fuels Act.