Jones bill aimed at shutting down pipeline in Mackinac straits

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones has introduced legislation that aims to shut down oil pipelines in the Great Lakes.

Jones’ measure targets Line 5, a 64-year-old pipeline owned by Enbridge, and aims to stop the flow of crude oil from Alberta, Canada under the Straits of Mackinac to the Canadian Sarnia refinery in Ontario.

“This is about fulfilling my constitutional duty as a senator to protect our greatest natural resource, the Great Lakes,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Roughly 40 million people drink water from the Great Lakes every day, and the lakes support thousands of Michigan jobs and families. It is simply too much to risk so that Canada can have a shortcut for their oil.”

Enbridge’s Line 6B was the pipeline that caused the Kalamazoo River oil spill in 2010. This was one of the worst and most expensive oil spills in U.S. history. Line 6B was an aged pipeline that was built in the 1960s, much like Line 5.

Senate Bill 292 would amend the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act to stop future pipelines from running through the Great Lakes. It would also require operators of current oil pipelines to undergo a full risk analysis by a qualified independent third party and turn it into the state. If the preliminary analysis concludes that risks are high, the pipeline would be shut down immediately.

“I do not believe that it is a question of if the line will fail, but when,” Jones said. “A leak from the pipeline under the straits would devastate the state’s thriving boating, fishing and tourism industries and wreak havoc on the health of the world’s largest collection of fresh water.

“I fully expect the analysis will determine that keeping Line 5 open is too high of a risk, and it will be forced to be decommissioned under the straits.”

Jones’ bill has been referred to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for consideration.