April 23, 2018
Governor Rick Snyder & Attorney General Bill Schuette
The Michigan State Capitol
As people of many faiths, we are called by the Creator to guide and lead others to love and care for each other and all of creation. Therefore, we ask that you respond carefully and quickly to an issue which is of grave importance to the entire Great Lakes ecosystem and our communities within the Basin.
Members of our faith communities have indicated growing concern over the lack of adequate upkeep and question the necessity of continuing operation of the Enbridge Pipeline 5. This 65 year-old pipeline, which runs over and through the entire State of Michigan, is showing signs of decomposition and has a history of 29 documented leaks totaling over 1 million gallons. The line’s rising potential for rupture jeopardizes the future water quality, ecosystem health, commercial fisheries, tourism, and livelihood of those across and beyond Michigan.
We call upon you, our elected leaders, to uphold the principle of the Public Trust Doctrine, wherein the people of Michigan have the inalienable right to the preservation, use and protection of the waters of the Great Lakes. This doctrine affirms that no private, public or commercial use shall harm the waters of the Great Lakes by materially reducing the flow, changing levels, or polluting the waters of the Great Lakes Basin. This principle aligns with our call as people of faith and citizens of the world to assure the right stewardship of our waters. Simply put, it is our belief that the Great Lakes are not an appropriate place to transport crude oil and it is our right as citizens to demand that this practice cease.
We share with scores of Michiganders their concerns about a growing threat of a spill, vague safety tests, and piecemeal repair each time pipe degradation is observed. These are not solutions to the problem, but a band-aid at best. For all the risk that Line 5 poses to Michigan and the Great Lakes Region, the benefits are few. The public has been crying out for this Line to be closed for almost a decade and easements across tribal lands expired in 2013.
As representatives of thousands of voices across Michigan we demand that you:
- Initiate Decommissioning of the pipeline NOW and decline the building of any more underwater lines in the Great Lakes basin.
- Stop using the “loss of propane” as a scare tactic and make arrangements for land-based transportation for the small amount of propane that is needed in the Upper Peninsula currently coming from the pipeline. Trains and tankers are proven alternatives and viable options.
- Demonstrate proper governmental oversight to protect the people and state resources!
- Show compassion for others and the planet. Consider the legacy you intend to leave for all our children and grandchildren and the earth.
We will continue to pray over this issue and voice our concern everywhere we can. We will pray that you, our elected and appointed representatives, will experience a change in heart and mind, and that you stand with the majority of people who lovingly show compassion for this planet – our island home – we only have one.
Bishop Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr.
10th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan