Last night I was invited to a private screening of, “Beneath the Surface – the Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes” – the new documentary film by Detroit Public Television. It revealed some new information about the Canadian company that owns Line 5. The oil has been coursing along on the bed of the Straits of Mackinac through a coated, beleaguered pipeline for six decades.
In watching the film, I started thinking about how many of my paintings have featured lakes, or water birds, or shorelines. Water is Michigan’s greatest natural resource. It has served as a backdrop for so many years that I admit to taking it for granted.
Even though Line 5 is older than I am, I was unaware of it until just recently. In December, Clifford and I joined up with Clean Water Action and protested at the state capitol, resulting in the State Police asking me to remove my horse from Governor Snyder’s building.
I am not sure Governor Snyder ever heard we were there, but since then he has agreed that Line 5 is not a good idea. Unfortunately he is still catering to Enbridge by contemplating a tunnel UNDER the Straits.
One look at Gov Snyder tells you he isn’t much of an outdoorsman. But, still.
Enbridge could just as easily create a land-line pipe that runs down through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio — all the way to the Canadian destination. Or, just keep it in Canada north of Lake Superior. This would cost them no more than the coated Line 5. The bureaucratic red tape of the issue is mind boggling. The excuses and avoidance of the obvious solution seem like just an offshoot of crazy. … And so horribly irresponsible.
All it takes is one little crack. One worn spot hit by an anchor, one weathered area overlooked for too long. Parts of the pipeline are buried under sediment. Who knows what is going on under there?
One of the most disconcerting things about this situation is how the public doesn’t seem to understand or care that this is happening. I think people believe that the Straits are in such a remote area that a spill would not affect them.
The film does a good job of illustrating the currents in the Straits and how unpredictable they are. Within just a day, an oil slick can travel south into Lake Michigan and head toward Traverse City, washing up on the beaches of Sleeping Bear and further. It can travel east into Huron, completely engulfing Mackinac island, working its way down the pristine coast of northeastern Lower Michigan. It can head north, up the channel into Les Cheneaux, and finally contaminate the shores my own Drummond Island.
This is within the first day, or days, of an oil leak.
If you don’t think this will affect you, think for a few minutes about where you spend your vacations. Then think about the tourism that is one of Michigan’s greatest draws. What brings people here?
It is the water.
Make no mistake, an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac would affect your business, one way or another.
What can you do? Click on this link and make a donation. Find out what governmental representative is an advocate for clean water, and vote for that person. Start reading more about Line 5 and make your voice heard.
I was born in Michigan and I have spent my entire life painting the flora and fauna that live here. I’ve attached a slide show of some of the art, below. Michigan is a great state and it’s wobbling on the cusp of being destroyed by corporate greed. You have the right to a pristine environment. Don’t let anyone take it from you.
“Beneath the Surface” premiers on Detroit Public TV (56.1) on April 25, 2018 at 10 pm ET. Check your local public TV listings.