Line 5

Protect Our Global Freshwater Resources

The Urgent Need to Shut Down Line 5

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Map of Line 5 pipeline spills

Line 5 pipeline spill map

Exposed pipeline in marshy area

Line 5, A Global Threat

Historical Disasters

In 2010, Enbridge's Line 6B ruptured, spilling over a million gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River. This disaster highlighted the hidden risks of Line 5.

Aging Infrastructure

Originally designed to last 50 years, Line 5 is now 18 years beyond its intended lifespan.

Frequent Spills

Over the past 50 years, Line 5 has had at least 33 spills, releasing 1.3 million gallons of oil into the environment.

Mackinac Bridge

Straits of Mackinac

Heart of the Great Lakes

The Straits of Mackinac, a four-mile-wide channel connecting Lakes Michigan and Huron, forms the core of the largest freshwater resource in the world. Beneath these waters lie two aging pipelines owned by Enbridge Energy, part of Line 5, built in 1953. A leak here could devastate fisheries, wildlife refuges, municipal drinking water, and renowned Mackinac Island.

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Why Line 5 Must Be Removed

A University of Michigan Study concluded that the Straits of Mackinac is the worst possible location for an oil pipeline. The strong and unpredictable currents make oil recovery nearly impossible.

Hands cupping water polluted with black substance

Environmental and Economic Threats

Wildlife and Fisheries

A spill would threaten crucial habitats and fisheries central to Tribal treaty rights.

Drinking Water

Municipal water supplies for millions could be contaminated.


Mackinac Island and the recreation industry of the Great Lakes would suffer devastating impacts.

Great Lakes Economy

The Great Lakes provide the backbone for a $6 Trillion industry and would be devastated by a spill.

Lake Superior shoreline

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

We stand in solidarity with the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in their legal battle against Enbridge. Their lands and waters are directly threatened by Line 5. Read their statements and watch the documentary, Bad River, to understand the deep impact on their community and environment.

National and International Implications

Workers cleaning up oil spill in river

The Line 5 issue is not confined to Michigan. It has two critical fronts:

  • Wisconsin Reroute: Enbridge is attempting to reroute Line 5 through Wisconsin, further threatening local communities and ecosystems.
  • Michigan Straits: The Straits of Mackinac remain one of the most vulnerable points in the Great Lakes system.

It also has international implications:

  • Shared Waters and Ecosystems: The Great Lakes, shared by the US and Canada, contain 21% of the world’s fresh surface water. An oil spill would affect both countries, threatening ecosystems, communities, and bilateral agreements, such as the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
  • Global Climate Goals: Continued reliance on aging oil infrastructure contradicts international efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Shutting down Line 5 supports global climate initiatives and promotes environmental sustainability.

What is Being Done

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Legal Action

On November 13, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer terminated the easement for Line 5 due to Enbridge's failure to operate the pipeline safely. Enbridge continues to operate illegally while the state seeks a court-ordered shutdown.

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Financial Accountability

Governor Whitmer is seeking garnishment of Enbridge's profits, estimated at $1.5-2 million dollars per day, for operating without easement.

Scuba diver near underwater pipeline

Our Partners in the Fight

We are proud to partner with organizations dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes:

  • Great Lakes Business Network: Collaborating with businesses committed to the health and sustainability of the Great Lakes.
  • Earthjustice: Providing strong legal support to ensure environmental laws are upheld.
Kayakers holding signs reading Shut Down Line 5 and Water is Life

Alternatives to Line 5

Canadian Market Dependency

Most of Line 5's product is destined for Canada. Less than 1% of its natural gas liquids serve Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Feasible Alternatives

Studies show the cost of using alternatives to Line 5 is negligible compared to typical crude oil price fluctuations. Governor Whitmer has provided a roadmap for the pipeline's removal, ensuring energy needs are met through other sources.

Wood turtle

Join the Movement to Protect Our Freshwater Resources

Help us safeguard our waters, wildlife, and way of life.


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Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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