Above photo: From Twitter.
Vassar, MI – On Tuesday morning, an unidentified Michigan Water Protector turned a valve on Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, stopping the flow of oil through the line which has been operating illegally since May 12, 2021. The water protector called Enbridge so that they could safely halt the flow of oil before reading a statement and turning the valve to halt the operation of the pipeline.
BREAKING: a water protector in Michigan took action to stop oil flow on Line 5, an @Enbridge pipeline, while the band Only Lucky Once played a show nearby.
From the valve turner: “I know my life is in danger from the risk of a spill and from the contributions to climate change.” pic.twitter.com/xXCi5yl4HY
— Resist Line 3 (@ResistLine3) October 19, 2021
Governor Whitmer has stated in a press release, “Enbridge has imposed on the people of Michigan an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that could devastate our economy and way of life.” The valve turner echoed this urgency, stating, “Enbridge has no legal right to operate this pipeline and the continued operation of Line 5 is an imminent threat to my life, and the lives of an untold number of other people and living beings. All other routes have been exhausted, Enbridge has been operating the pipeline illegally since May 12th and direct action must be taken to enforce the governor’s order and begin healing Mother Earth”.
Enbridge’s Line 5 meets the recently completed Line 3 in Superior, WI. Over 900 water protectors were arrested in the last year for peacefully opposing the construction of Line 3. These water protectors were met with trumped up felony charges and some were even tortured with “pain compliance tactics” by law enforcement officers, who were reimbursed for their time by the Canadian Enbridge corporation. Meanwhile, Enbridge has been illegally operating Line 5 for almost five months. While the Governor of Michigan has been bold and outspoken, people are acting directly to halt the flow of oil in the face of this imbalance in power as the climate catastrophe worsens.
Water protectors acting to stop Line 3 and Line 5 cite the risk of oil spills as well as the projects’ contribution to climate change. The Line 5 pipeline has spilled more than 1.1 million (known) gallons of oil to date. Other Enbridge pipelines have a similar track record, as evidenced by the 2010 spill of 1.2 million gallons from Line 6B in Kalamazoo, Michigan and the 1991 spill of 1.7 million gallons from Line 3 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. In the valve turner’s words, “I know my life is in danger because of the risk of a spill and because of the contributions of Enbridge to climate change. In Detroit, we saw record flooding leave cars strewn across the city and upend lives, elsewhere people have died in wildfires and hurricanes, or from starvation as unpredictable weather patterns destroy food production.”