Penokee Hills Education Project Now Concentrating On Pipelines

Anti-Mine Group Seeks To Raise Awareness Of Enbridge Pipelines
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Kate Ter Haar (CC BY 2.0)

The Enbridge Line 5 pipeline carries oil beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

A northern Wisconsin group that opposed the construction of Gogebic Taconite's $1.5 billion iron mine is now shifting its focus to pipelines.

Community members in the Chequamegon Bay area are concerned about the threat of a potential oil spill from Enbridge Energy pipelines running through northern Wisconsin.

The Penokee Hills Education Project has been holding a series of meetings this month to draw awareness to Enbridge's pipelines, specifically Line 5. The group's Frank Koehn said they're worried a potential oil spill could be more harmful to the region's waters than any iron mine.

"It's the same communities it's going through … same rivers, same creeks, same lakes, same streams that are threatened that the mine threatened," Koehn said.

Enbridge Energy welcomes discussion and transparency about their pipeline operations, said Jennifer Smith, the company's spokeswoman. Smith said Line 5 transports 540,000 barrels per day of crude oil and natural gas across the Midwest.

"Of course it's also fueling our vehicles, businesses, powering industry," she said. "It really is a critical piece of energy infrastructure that's been running safely for more than 65 years."

Koehn said they're concerned about the Line 5's age, changes to state regulation and climate change.

The roughly 60-year-old line starts in Superior and crosses through Michigan's Upper Peninsula and then down to the Straits of Mackinac. Around a dozen miles of Line 5 crosses tribal lands on its route.

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