With the odds of a catastrophic spill growing by the day, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden need to show some political courage and shutter an “aging and dangerous pipeline” that carries Canadian oil and fuels through Michigan, says the former U.S. Chair of the International Joint Commission (IJC).
Lana Pollack was once appointed to resolve water issues between the U.S. and Canada. Now, in an op-ed for The Guardian, she calls out what she sees as the “extraordinary gall” on the part of Trudeau, and baffling reticence on the part of Biden, that have enabled the impasse over closure of the Line 5 pipeline. to drag on.
Cataloguing the well-documented and worsening condition of the aged Enbridge pipeline, currently running through the Straits of Mackinac, Pollack urges the two leaders to shut down Line 5, for the sake of all the creatures that depend on clean, healthy Great Lake waters.
“Canada would be apoplectic if the U.S. government marched into a Canadian court and argued that the province of Ontario has zero authority over an American company operating an aging, corroded pipeline under Canada’s pristine Georgian Bay,” Pollack writes. Yet this is exactly what Canada is doing in Michigan, with its argument that Governor Gretchen Whitmer has no authority over Enbridge Inc., a Calgary-based pipeliner with a poor environmental track record.
“Canada’s strained position is premised on ignoring the plain text of the 1977 U.S.-Canada Pipeline Treaty,” which states unambiguously that “appropriate government authorities” dohave the authority to regulate pipelines on environmental grounds, Pollack writes. That makes Canada’s stance “environmentally and legally reckless,” she says, and it “will be robustly challenged by both Michigan and the Indigenous nations whose rights and stewardship of the Great Lakes long predate the pipeline.”
As for the Biden administration’s refusal to defend a U.S. state’s sovereign interests in the dispute, Pollack urges a change of heart, adding that coming out in support of Whitmer’s “well-reasoned shutdown order” before the end of COP 26 might deliver a shot in the arm to Biden’s international credibility.