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Shut Down Line 5

Keeping Oil out of the Great Lakes

Decommission Line 5 Pipeline at Straits of Mackinac

Michigan is the Great Lakes state, and those of us fortunate to live or visit this magnificent place with so much clean fresh water know better than to take it for granted. The risk of an oil spill anywhere in the Great Lakes is unacceptable. We all must work to protect this resource.

Michigan’s tourism industry is built on the image of pure, clean water. The idea that these precious waters are at risk
of a devastating oil spill damages that reputation for tourism and for those of us who call Michigan home. (Download the white paper "Canadian Profits, Michigan Risk," by clicking the report cover at right.)

— Jim Lively, program director



Groundwork was one of the first organizations to recognize the risk of the Line 5 pipeline in the Great Lakes by taking action with a rally at the Mackinac Straits in 2013. Since then we have been actively involved in organizing support for our position that oil pipelines do not belong in the Great Lakes.

Michigan has legal authority over the easement on the bottomlands. In 2016 Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette created a Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force which will release both a risk and alternatives analysis by Fall 2017 to support action on the pipeline.



Groundwork recognizes that
 top elected officials will need support from not only environmental groups but also business leaders. That’s why we launched the Great Lakes Business Network to coordinate and elevate the voices of business leaders to protect the lakes from the risks posed by Line 5.



Keeping oil out of the Straits

Groundwork launched the initial campaign in 2013 to raise awareness about the risky 1950s era pipelines pumping 23 million gallons of oil every day right through the open waters of the Straits of Mackinac. With our leadership, in less than two years the Line 5 pipeline became Michigan’s top environmental issue. 

Groundwork led the formation of the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign, inviting more than 20 citizen environmental groups to join the effort. And we led the effort to take the bold position to shut down the pipelines, rather than replace or improve them, and entirely remove the risk of polluting our Great Lakes. 

In short, Groundwork has been at the center of efforts to keep oil out of the Great Lakes.

Making the business case

Michigan has legal authority over the fate of the pipelines on the bottomlands of the Great Lakes.  To bolster our state’s leaders to act, we are broadening our campaign beyond citizen and environmental groups to reach out to Michigan’s business community —especially those that are benefitting from the successful Pure Michigan marketing campaign. 

Our research has revealed that Enbridge is using the Line 5 pipeline as a convenient shortcut through the Great Lakes to pump surplus oil beyond Michigan to the East Coast and global markets. They are risking our ‘Pure Michigan’ waters with oil that we aren’t using. We get all the risk, and Enbridge gets the profit. It’s not a good deal for Michigan, and we believe our business community will galvanize around our campaign to shut down Line 5.



In 2014, Groundwork built a coalition of more than 20 statewide and regional citizen and environmental groups to join the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign to take action to shut down Line 5.

MEdia campaign

Groundwork kicked off a widespread media campaign in 2014, unveiling a website that acts as a clearinghouse for breaking pipeline information, and a television commercial that ran across northern Michigan.

Call for decommission

Groundwork was the first organization to publicly call for the shutdown of the pipelines. Today, all 20 partner organizations convened by Groundwork in the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign are calling for Line 5’s decommission.