Twenty-eight business leaders have joined a new Great Lakes Business Network (GLBN), which calls for the strategic decommissioning of Line 5, Enbridge’s 63-year-old oil pipelines on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The group, which launched in mid January, now boasts nearly 40 companies seeking to ensure that the Great Lakes are protected from a catastrophic oil spill in what has been described as the “worst place possible” by an expert hydrogeologist.
Many of the new business members are from northern Michigan and work in industries that benefit from clean water and tourism including food production, brewing, outdoor recreation, and media production. New members include American Spoon of Petoskey Great Lakes Potato Chips of Traverse City, Shorts Brewing Co. of Bellaire, M22 of Traverse City, Higher Grounds Coffee Roasters of Traverse City, Stormcloud Brewing of Frankfort, Brewery Vivant of Grand Rapids, Image Shoppe of Grand Rapids, and Pilot Malt House of Byron Center. An entire list of network members with photos and supporting statements is available on the website, glbusinessnetwork.com
The risk of a devastating oil spill is not only an environmental issue, but a business issue. “Millions of people visit here for the same reason we live here — the water,” says Keegan Myers, co-owner of the popular outfitting retailer, M22 “The Great Lakes keep our economy strong. If anything happened, it would end our business and our community …”
Business Network leaders point to a statistic from the Michigan Economic Center (2015) that “collectively (and conservatively) our Michigan ‘Blue Economy’ already provides roughly 1 in 5, or nearly one million Michigan jobs, and $60 billion in annual economic impact for the citizens of our state …” The Great Lakes Business Network implores government leaders to recognize that these numbers dwarf any estimate of the economic value of Line 5 to Michigan.
“Fresh, clean water is a privilege,” says new member Joe Short, founder and CEO of Short’s Brewery. “We’re really lucky to live in a place with such abundant fresh and clean water. All of us are responsible for the continued health and safety of our water systems. Water is our greatest natural resource. Nothing has more value.”
Beyond providing their supporting on the GLBN website, members have also been raising their voices in meetings with state leaders and through multiple media outlets.
“The environmental and economic devastation created by an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac would be hard to exaggerate,” says Dave McGinnis, manager and senior captain of Traverse Tall Ship Company. “I have no doubt that our company would be just one of countless businesses caught in a domino effect of ruin.”
“Clean, pure water is at the essence of our beer and we treasure being so connected to our Great Lakes,” says Kris Spaulding, owner of Brewery Vivant. “An oil spill in our beautiful lakes would be devastating.”
With recently launched Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to spread relevant news, reports, and visibility, the group expects to see business leaders continue to join the network and add to the call to decommission Line 5.