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Shut down Line 5 before state stuck with bill

The 1953 easement permitting Line 5 to be placed in the Straits of Mackinac contained numerous protections. However, Gov. Rick Snyder’s agreement with Enbridge in October 2018 contained a “sellout” provision on damage coverage. The 1953 easement provided for indemnification to Michigan and its citizens for ALL damages from a Line 5 oil spill. This promise was to be backed by third-party funds to be provided through a bond or insurance policy. Such is a guarantee of payment to protect against bankruptcy.

Snyder replaced this vital guarantee with a new financial insurance mechanism backed largely by corporate equity and capped at only $1.9 billion. On July 17, 2020, the state asked Enbridge to modify the agreement to make sure damage claims would actually be paid. Enbridge’s response amazingly refuses to provide for such guarantees. The Canadian parent would not even agree that the parent’s corporate assets would be pledged to pay all damages from a spill. Indeed, the Enbridge response restricts its unguaranteed commitments only to “clean up” costs.

Michigan State University’s Robert Richardson’s study of May 2018, estimated that an oil spill in the Straits would cost us at least $ 6.3 billion. The MSU study put oil spill environmental and restoration cleanup costs at $700 million. Richardson puts the non-cleanup costs at $4.8 billion in lost tourism damages, $500 million in shoreline property value losses, $233 million for drinking water systems damages, and $61 million in damages to commercial fishing. Who pays for these Line 5 spill damages?

There is only one solution. Tell Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that it is time to terminate the 1953 easement and shut down Line 5 before Michigan gets stuck with the multi-billion dollar bill for the next anchor drag on the twin pipelines in the open waters of the Straits.

LEONARD PAGE,

vice-chairman,

Straits of Mackinac Alliance

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