Line 5 Pipeline: Michigan Tunnel

Line 5 crosses more than 280 rivers and streams, many of which are interconnected and flow to the Great Lakes and the Straits of Mackinac, and throughout which Bay Mills has treaty-protected fishing, hunting, and gathering rights. The Great Lakes are the largest source of surface fresh water in the world, supplying drinking water for 48 million people.

Case Overview

Earthjustice, in partnership with the Native American Rights Fund, represents the Bay Mills Indian Community in the Tribal Nation’s fight to protect the Straits and the Tribe’s treaty rights throughout waters in Michigan.

In 2020, Bay Mills Indian Community became the first Tribal nation to intervene in a proceeding before the Michigan Public Service Commission to contest Enbridge’s proposal to build and reroute the Line 5 oil pipeline with a tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac, a 4-mile-wide waterway that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

The Public Service Commission is one of the agencies that will determine whether Enbridge can build a massive tunnel to house a new segment of its Line 5 pipeline.

In 2010, Enbridge was responsible for the largest inland oil spill in our nation’s history when another of its pipelines (Line 6B) released nearly one million gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.

In a related case, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is challenging the environmental review of a plan by Enbridge Energy to relocate part of the Line 5 pipeline where it runs through the Bad River watershed. Earthjustice is representing the Bad River Band in its legal fight.

Bob Gravelle, Bay Mills Tribal citizen, fishes on Spectacle Lake in Bay Mills.
Bob Gravelle, Bay Mills Tribal citizen, fishes on Spectacle Lake in Bay Mills. (Whitney Gravelle)

Case Updates

March 23, 2023 In the News: AP News

Army Corps further delays decision on Great Lakes oil tunnel

Debbie Chizewer, Managing Attorney, Midwest Office, Earthjustice: “It needs to be redone or completely thrown away.”

February 6, 2023 Press Release

Enbridge Ignoring Line 5 Explosion Risk, Warn Two Engineers

Michigan Public Service Commission weighs more testimony on the Line 5 tunnel project

October 14, 2022 Document

Bay Mills Scoping Comments on Line 5 EIS

Comments submitted by the Bay Mills Indian Community on the US Army Corps’ plan to assess the environmental impacts of the proposed Line 5 tunnel project in the Straits of Mackinac.