The League of Women Voters promotes informed and active participation in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy at the local, state and national levels. The League is nonpartisan and never supports or opposes political parties or candidates, although we do take positions on issues. Membership is open to men and women over the age of 16.
For more information: Call 231-386-5680, visit LWVLeelanau.org or follow LWVLC on Facebook at League of Women Voters Leelanau County
In February of 2016 the League of Women Voters Leelanau County voted to create a resolution asking local townships and villages to support the closing of the 63-year-old Pipeline that carries natural gas and light crude oil deep under the Straits of Mackinac--23 million gallons of oil each day. This pipeline is known as Pipeline 5.
Leelanau County is a peninsula in northwestern Michigan with 100 miles of shoreline jutting into Lake Michigan. It is about 70 nautical miles from the Straits of Mackinac where the waters of Lakes Michigan and Huron merge in a strong four-to-five-mile-per-hour current. Some days the current races east into Lake Huron; other days it races west into Lake Michigan. During winter it's often under thick ice and snow.
Enbridge, an Alberta-based Canadian oil and gas company, operates a pipeline known as Pipeline 5 across the Upper Peninsula, under the Straits, then across the Lower Peninsula and into Sarnia, Ontario. The pipeline sometimes cracks and spills crude oil on land. At the Straits, Enbridge operates under a bottomland easement, granted by the State of Michigan in 1953. The company acknowledges violating requirements of that easement. At the water's edge, the pipeline is `twinned'--two 20-inch pipes follow the bottomland mounted on trestles just west of the five-mile span of the Mackinac Bridge. Clean up of an underwater spill would be slowed, if not impossible, due to frequent four-five foot waves, ice during winter, and nightfall when response teams cannot work. The company monitors the condition of the underwater pipelines every few years. The latest reports and photos indicate a substantial accumulation of zebra mussels enveloping the pipelines, weakening their surface walls. A University of Michigan study indicates a pipeline rupture could send an oil spill east and/or west covering 700 miles of Michigan's coastline. Forty million people drink water from the Great Lakes. One of every five jobs in Michigan depends on the quality and quantity of the Lakes' fresh water, including billions of tourism dollars.
By the end of August 2016, we had completed our outreach to local government bodies and the results were in. They were mixed. Of 14 jurisdictions we had success in eight. The trustees in the village of Northport and those in the townships of Centerville, Cleveland, and Leelanau passed our resolution. The trustees in the village of Suttons Bay and the townships of Empire and Suttons Bay passed a modified version. The trustees of Elmwood and Solon townships defeated the LWVLC resolution. The trustees of Bingham, Glen Arbor, Kasson and Leland townships refused to take any action.
The LWVMI adopted our request that the state League join the coalition Oil and Water Don't Mix. A member of the LWVLC board will represent the LWVMI at this coalition. The struggle to protect the Great Lakes continues.