Statement from Michelle Woodhouse, Water Program Manager, on Canada’s move to invoke 1977 Pipeline Treaty 

Treaty to be used to argue that Line 5 must stay open, despite the fact that the pipeline poses an unacceptable threat to the Great Lakes

Toronto, Ont. – We are dismayed by Canada’s decision to invoke the 1977 Pipeline Treaty and intervene in the hearing between Michigan and Enbridge. Line 5 is located in the worst possible place for an oil spill into the Great Lakes according to experts at the University of Michigan. The pipeline should be closed. We can meet our energy needs another way. 

Canada has not done its research when it comes to the pipeline’s actual importance to Ontario and Quebec. There has been no assessment of possible alternatives to Line 5 nor of the impacts to jobs if Line 5 closes. Yet Canada seems to be accepting Enbridge’s claims about this dangerous pipeline unequivocally, while downplaying the risks posed to the Great Lakes and to climate. We know alternatives exist — an independent analysis shows the existing pipeline system has capacity to meet most of the region’s energy needs without Line 5.

It isn’t just Governor Whitmer who has ordered Line 5’s closure. All Michigan Tribes and the Anishinabek Nation of Ontario have also called for it to be shut down. Line 5 threatens the way of life for Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region, including harvesting and fishing rights and the cultural and spiritual importance of this area to the Anishinabek people. This pipeline is also a threat to all those who depend on the nearby lands and waters that would be impacted by a spill. After all, water is life — we cannot drink oil.

For more information on Line 5 please see our backgrounder.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.


For more information and to arrange an interview please contact: Lauren Thomas,