State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, issued the following statement on Wednesday regarding the recent damage to Line 5 and other underwater cables beneath the straits:
“I cannot begin to explain my disappointment with what happened last week — not only because of what happened, but how it was handled as well.
“The communication efforts by Enbridge and ATC were nonexistent. I have been in contact with my federal partners, including Congressman Bergman’s office, and there is a mutual concern that because the communication efforts on behalf of all companies involved were this poor, efforts toward fixing the problem will also be less than impressive. If waiting days for information about something so important is what we’re to expect, I have zero confidence situations like this have been and will be handled in a timely, effective manner.
“As a result, I am calling for a complete shutdown of Line 5. We’ve talked about this long enough — there have been numerous issues that have stemmed from the 65-year-old pipeline and it’s time we shut it down and pursue an alternative.
“The line should remain down as we independently verify that there is no potential for risk — including shipping or anchor damage — or come up with an alternative. Taking Enbridge at their word that everything is operating as it should is not good enough. There is simply too much conflict and too great a risk to our state’s natural resources.
“I am also greatly disappointed with the shipping company that is responsible for the damage. I’ve been in touch with representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and I’ve been assured that these underwater pipelines and cables are clearly labeled on the nautical maps used by shipping companies. Because of the potential for damage, it is highly recommended that ships do not drop anchor in these areas, yet that is exactly what we saw. The company’s negligence has put our Great Lakes and their respective ecosystems at risk, and they certainly must pay for doing so.
“I want to thank all of the local, state and federal officials for their coordinated efforts, and while I am thankful that no environmental damage was detected, I think it’s time we pursue a safer alternative to running a pipeline under the straits.”