Michigan Accepting Comments on the Future of Line 5

Posted on July 20, 2017 by


After Enbridge’s Pipeline 6b spilled more than 1.2 million gallons of crude into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, Freshwater Future led the charge in raising awareness about the existence of a lesser-known Enbridge pipeline: Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.

Today the 64-year-old pipeline transports over 22 million gallons of crude oil a day through Lake Michigan and Lake Huron amid growing opposition and public cries to shut down Line 5. In response to pressure from the public, the state of Michigan commissioned a study to analyze alternatives to the aging pipeline.

On June 29th, the draft Alternatives Analysis for Enbridge’s Line 5 was released by independent contractor Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. The final report, to be released later this year, will provide information and data on alternative movement of the petroleum products currently transported through Line 5. Visit to access the full draft report.

At Freshwater Future, our mission is to protect all of the Great Lakes and their tributary waters. As northern Michiganders evaluate the alternative methods of transporting Line 5 petroleum products, we must take care not to export the spill risk elsewhere in the Great Lakes basin. If Line 5 is decommissioned, it will likely be replaced by one of the alternatives in this report, each of which have their own, sometimes more serious, inherent risks. We’re asking you, our supporters, to add your voice to the public comment period so that the final version of this report will be as comprehensive and accurate as possible. 


A short summary of the alternatives explored in the report can be found here

  1. The state specifically requested the contractor evaluate the “worst-case spill” scenario; they evaluated the “most-likely” scenario.
  2. Additionally, the release volumes and cost estimates associated with a potential spill cited in the study are lower than even Enbridge’s estimates.
  3. The rerouting of product through existing, Midwestern pipeline infrastructure as a viable alternative was eliminated prematurely.
  4. The analysis regarding new pipeline construction failed to consider the potential regulatory timeframe with regard to permits and land acquisition.
  5. There was no analysis of how long the existing pipelines under the Straits will last.
  6. Market and socioeconomic impacts were analyzed for the entire Line 5 infrastructure, but the risks were only calculated for the 4.5 miles of pipeline under the Straits.


Unlike other opportunities for broader public comment on Line 5, the Petroleum Safety Advisory Board has specifically solicited feedback on this independent, 3rd-party Alternatives Analysis for Line 5.

The public still has until August 5th to provide direct comment.  

Helpful public comments will focus on:

  • Thoroughness — Upon review, did the authors fail to address key questions or topics? If alternatives were deemed infeasible or undesirable, was the reason for doing so sufficient?
  • Clarity — Do any parts of the report need clarification?
  • Assumptions — Did the authors rely on realistic assumptions? Did they explain their assumptions well?
  • Costs and Impacts — Are the cost components of each alternative identified, considered, and explained? Did the authors consider all relevant social and economic impacts?
  • Data and Projections — Are there any information sources that should have been included? Are projections made with convincing and appropriate data?
  • Methodology — Is the methodology understandable, or is more information needed? Is it sufficient to accurately address the questions presented? Are there any flaws?

Visit and click on the “comment” button to post your thoughts online.


Additionally, you may forward written feedback:

Michigan Agency for Energy

Attn: Line 5 Pipeline Study

P.O. Box 30221

7109 Saginaw Highway

Lansing, MI 48917


Or, you may attend one of three Public Feedback Sessions.

Monday, July 24: Holt High School

5885 Holt Road, Holt

Beginning at 8am

Monday, July 24: Hagerty Center at Northwestern Michigan College

715 East Front St., Traverse City

Starting at 6pm

Tuesday, July 25: Little Bear East Arena

275 Marquette St., St. Ignace

Beginning at 6pm


© 2022 Freshwater Future. All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.