LANSING, Michigan – Native American leaders and more than 150 allied advocacy groups from across the U.S. have called for the shutdown of a Canadian-owned oil and gas pipeline.
They claimed that more than one million gallons of fossil fuels have leaked from the pipeline in more than 30 incidents over the past 55 years.
In a letter to President Joe Biden, these groups said pipeline was threatening an environmental disaster with oil spills into the Great Lakes.
Leaders of the Indigenous Women’s Treaty Alliance — which is facilitated by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) — urged the president to “immediately revoke the presidential permit for Canada’s deteriorating Enbridge Line 5 pipeline before environmental calamity strikes with oil spills into the Great Lakes.”
The letter said that the ecology and food habits of indigenous people in the region are in danger.
“We are from the Great Lakes, where our sacred food Manoomin –wild rice– grows on the water. We have a responsibility to protect our water, our ecosystems, and our cultural ways of life for the next seven generations,” stated the letter.
Treaty rights and manoomin have been at the center of Indigenous-led opposition to the replacement of Line 3 earlier, another Enbridge pipeline that runs from Canada through the Great Lakes region.
Despite fierce opposition from indigenous peoples, climate and environmental activists, the Biden administration refused to block the replacement of Line 3, which began operations in October 2021.
An oil spill has the potential to permanently damage watershed ecology, wild rice, and fish populations.
Last September, U.S. District Judge William Conley found that Enbridge trespassed on land owned by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in northwestern Wisconsin.
However, because the tribe cannot prove an “emergency” exists along the flooded riverbank, he said it is unlikely to order Enbridge to shut down the pipeline.
Nearly 23 million gallons of oil flow daily through two aging pipelines in the heart of the Great Lakes, just 1.5 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge.
Line 5 has spilled at least 1.1 million gallons of oil 33 times since 1968.
Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac cross one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in the world.
The Great Lakes contain 21% of the world’s fresh surface water.
In 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered the shutdown. However, Enbridge ignored the order and allowed the pipeline to continue.