An oil pipeline that runs across part of the Great Lakes has been the target of criticism for months. Now environmental groups in the region are applauding a move to toughen pipeline laws, and protect the fresh water source from potential oil spills.
Bills proposed in Congress this month are aimed at increasing oil pipeline safety. They address issues like increased transparency and liability for spill clean-ups.
The issue has been a focus for Liz Kirkwood, the executive director of FLOW. Her organization is fighting for the shutdown of Line 5, an aging oil pipeline that runs through Straits of Mackinac – between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
“I think the Great Lakes hold a very special place in in all of our hearts and this is the type of common sense legislation that is designed to protect our greatest natural resources like the great lakes,” she says.
Nate Drag from the Alliance for the Great Lakes says this legislation is a step in the right direction.
“The reality is, oil is moving right now," he says. "It’s moving tomorrow it’s going to be moving the next day. So while, we’re looking at those long terms solutions we need to make sure our communities are safe and our ecosystems are safe and making sure that the people in charge of these pipelines are responsible and are held accountable.”
The broad legislation covers pipelines that go through the lakes, Like Line 5, and in tributaries, like the Kalamazoo River. That river was the site of a devastating spill in 2010.