Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Lawsuit Could Shut Down Controversial Great Lakes Pipeline

Energy
Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Island. Jeff Lefevre / NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

Two environmental groups have filed suit against the U.S. Coast Guard in a Detroit federal district court, arguing that their plan to respond in the case of a Great Lakes pipeline oil spill is inadequate, The Detroit News reported on Aug. 22.

The suit is part of a larger push to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac between Lakes Huron and Michigan and comes as indigenous activists have set up camps protesting the line that could damage 400 miles of shoreline in a spill.


"Until we decommission this aging, risky pipeline, we need the best-possible spill response plan to protect our Great Lakes, our communities, our wildlife and our economy," National Wildlife Federation staff attorney Oday Salim said in a statement reported by The Detroit News.

National Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) are suing based on comments made by former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft during a congressional hearing in November during which he said the Coast Guard was not prepared for a pipeline spill in the Great Lakes.

"Between 2014 and 2017, Coast Guard personnel have publicly stated that the agency is ill-equipped to adequately remove a spill from the open waters of the Great Lakes—let alone one as severe as a worst case discharge," the lawsuit states, Courthouse News Service reported.

The suit argues that the Coast Guard's 2017 approval of the North Michigan Area Contingency Plan violates the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which was written in response to the Exxon-Valdez oil spill and mandates contingency plans in any areas where oil is transported through water, according to The Detroit News.

The case further argues that, if the contingency plan is invalid, the facility response plan (FRP) required to allow Enbridge to run its pipelines under the Great Lakes would also be invalid, according to Courthouse News Service.

"You are not allowed to operate without a facility response plan," ELPC senior attorney Margrethe Kearney told The Detroit News. "If the court agrees, as they should, that the area contingency plan is not valid then certainly one of the outcomes could be someone requesting that Line 5 be shut down."

Mistrust of Enbridge partly stems from a rupture in its line 6B in July 2010, in which more than one million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in one of the nation's largest inland oil spills, according to Courthouse News Service.

Coast Guard spokesman Lieutenant Paul Rhynard refused to comment on the lawsuit, but told Michigan Live that the Coast Guard was "confident" in the existing plan.

"The efforts that goes into these contingency plans is deliberate," Rhynard said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Women walk from Santa Monica beach after a social media workout on the sand on May 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Independence Day weekend is a busy time for coastal communities as people flock to the beaches to soak up the sun during the summer holiday. This year is different. Some of the country's most popular beach destinations in Florida and California have decided to close their beaches to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.

Read More Show Less
Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans and others who suffer from PTSD. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Arash Javanbakht

For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.

Read More Show Less
Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs. Mathias Appel / Flickr

Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs, warns a year-long inquiry into Australia's "most loved animal." The report published by the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) paints a "stark and depressing snapshot" of koalas in Australia's southeastern state.

Read More Show Less
NASA is advancing tools like this supercomputer model that created this simulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to better understand what will happen to Earth's climate if the land and ocean can no longer absorb nearly half of all climate-warming CO2 emissions. NASA/GSFC

By Jeff Berardelli

For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.

Read More Show Less
A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less

Trending

African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less