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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. —In the wake of last week’s Glasgow Pact on the climate emergency and his visit to Michigan yesterday, today the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians called on President Biden to support Michigan Governor Whitmer’s stand on Line 5. The President is meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau, who in the past has been an outspoken supporter of Canadian oil transport company Enbridge. 

Sault Tribe Chairperson Aaron Payment said, “At Glasgow, both the US and Canada recommitted to the Paris Accord goal of holding global climate warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst of the looming climate catastrophe. Scientists have made clear that to do that, we have to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. That’s just eight short years. Line 5, at 69 years old, arguably the worst-located pipeline in the world, can’t keep operating if we intend to hit that goal.” 

Sault Tribe was the first of Michigan’s 12 tribes to call for the shutdown of Line 5 in a February 2015 resolution, and all 12 tribes are unanimous in this call. The tribe’s Environmental Director, Kathleen Brosemer, spoke about Line 5 in the Indigenous Peoples’ Pavilion at COP26 in Glasgow. “Enbridge has proposed a tunnel project to contain the risk of a spill from these pipes at the Straits of Mackinac, but recently said that the soonest that tunnel can be operational, if there are no delays, would be 2028,” Brosemer said.  

Brosemer added, “There is no way to meet our Glasgow commitments with Line 5 operating, and this tunnel, at half a billion dollars, would operate for less than two years before that deadline. It makes no sense to throw that kind of money at this problem at this time.” 

Last November, Gov. Whitmer ordered a shutdown of Line 5, citing violations of the terms of the easement through the straits, to take effect in May 2021. Since May, Enbridge has continued operating the twin pipes in violation of that order. 

“To meet our Glasgow commitments, Line 5 needs to be the first to go,” Payment said. “President Biden needs to support Gov. Whitmer, and tell Prime Minister Trudeau that Enbridge’s profits do not outweigh our responsibilities to the next seven generations.” 

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY