Big Michigan business concerned by Enbridge oil pipeline

Enbridge facing mounting pressure over its Line 5 pipeline system running between the two Michigan peninsulas.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  July 12, 2017 at 8:50 AM
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July 12 (UPI) -- Voices from the lucrative craft brewing industry in Michigan and the state cherry industry joined the chorus expressing concern about an Enbridge oil pipeline.

"We have oil that's coming from Canada, passing through Michigan, and the great majority of it goes to Canada," Larry Bell, owner of Bell's Brewery, said in a statement. "As Michiganders, we take all this risk, both from a business standpoint and an environmental standpoint, for the profit of a Canadian oil company."

Bell's comments are part of a campaign organized by the National Wildlife Federation, which coordinated with the Great Lakes Business Network to highlight the potential risks from Line 5, a pipeline system operated by Canadian energy company Enbridge.

The campaign comes as a company tasked with assessing the pipeline, Dynamic Risk, holds a series of public forums across the state through July.

Pipeline operator Enbridge is facing push back from residents in the northern part of Michigan's lower peninsula worried about the integrity of Line 5, but the company said it felt it was in as good a condition as when it was installed. A rupture from the company's Line 6b in 2010 in southern Michigan triggered one of the largest inland oil spills in the history of the U.S. oil industry.

"Line 5 is the greatest threat to our economy up here in northern Michigan," said Bob Sutherland, owner of Cherry Republic, which makes cherry-based products. "For the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on that lake for their livelihood, this tourism industry would be really thrown into a tailspin."

Michigan accounts for about three quarters of the total tart cherry production in the United States. Its craft brew industry contributes more than $133 million to the state economy and more than $24 million in wages.

In June, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette cut state ties with Det Norske Veritas, one of the companies probing risks on a Great Lakes oil pipeline, because of ties to Enbridge.

Enbridge notes the pipeline system has been in service for more than six decades without any major incidents. The company employs about 250 people across Michigan.

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