State officials call for ban on heavy crude in Mackinac Straits pipeline

LANSING – On Tuesday, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Dan Wyant and Attorney General Bill Schuette announced release of the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force Report.  The report calls for an immediate ban on transporting tar sands and heavy crude oil through the Straits of Mackinac pipelines, mandates full insurance coverage liability, requires an assessment of options to the Straits pipelines, requires Enbridge to disclose coverage pipeline safety reports and creates a public advisory board on pipeline safety.

“These recommendations are tough but fair and are clear about responsibilities every Michigan citizen has as a steward of the Great Lakes,” said Schuette. “Certainly, the Straits Pipelines would not be built today, so how many more tomorrows Line 5 should operate is limited in duration.”

“The Great Lakes are Michigan’s most precious resource and our top stewardship charge,” said Wyant. “While we recognize the importance of transporting energy to power Michigan communities, it cannot be at the expense of our environment. I am proud of this Task Force’s recommendations, which hold pipeline operators more accountable and provide additional protection for our environment.”

The report comes as the result of extensive information gathering, discussion and analysis by the multi-agency Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force. The task force produced thirteen recommendations, seeking to reduce short-term risks, give the State necessary information to evaluate the risks to the Straits from the current pipelines, and evaluate alternatives to the existing pipelines.

The Statewide Recommendations will require the action of the Governor, relevant state agencies, and the Michigan Legislature.

The Task Force made these key recommendations:

For the 5B Pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac:

—An immediate ban on transport of heavy crude oil and tar sands through the Straits Pipelines.

—Mandatory full insurance coverage on the Straits Pipeline to protect our waters.

—Examining options to the Straits Pipeline.

—Requiring disclosure of Enbridge safety inspections.

—Creating a public advisory committee on pipeline safety.

For petroleum and gas pipelines across Michigan:

—Coordinate mapping of existing pipelines among state agencies.

—Ensure that state agencies collaborate on emergency planning and spill response.

—Ensure coordinated emergency response training exercises and drills

—Ensure regular state consultation with the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on hazardous liquid (including petroleum) pipelines.

—Consider legislation requiring state review and approval of oil spill response plans, improved spill reporting, and more robust civil fines.

—Evaluate whether to establish a Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Safety Program in Michigan.

—Consider legislation or rulemaking to improve siting process for new petroleum pipelines.

—Create a permanent Petroleum Pipeline Information website.

Pipeline Task Force Background

The Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force was created by Wyant and Schuette in 2014 in response to safety concerns about various pipelines across Michigan. For more information visit

In addition to the Michigan Department of Attorney General and the Department of Environmental Quality, the task force includes the Michigan Public Service Commission, Department of Natural Resources, DEQ's Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

In July 2014, Wyant and Schuette sent a formal notice to Enbridge addressing the requirement to install additional anchors for two oil pipelines laid in the Mackinac Straits more than sixty years ago.

A copy of the report can be found at