In the final days of Governor Rick Snyder's final term, and he was busier than we had ever seen him. Hundreds of bills were being processed.
I received a call from a conservative from the Michigan House, a conscientious individual who had broken from the party to fight against Line 5. Some talking points were needed. I began from the beginning, and explained the basic points, which could be passed on to others lawmakers.
-The pipeline is more than 65 years old, is badly damaged, and a spill could destroy the region's drinking water, beaches, habitats, property.
-Michigan's tourism, as the state's biggest economic driver, would be gone as we know it.
-If the pipeline is shut down, then the oil company, not the taxpayers, would be on the hook for paying for a tunnel or replacement.
"This is helpful," I was told. "Many of our Reps don't know anything about it. They've maybe heard of Line 5, but they're not too worried about it."
"And these are the people voting on it?," I asked.
Snyder and Co. were scrambling to place the pipeline, which sits in public bottom lands, under the Michigan Bridge Authority. It never went through. But there were plans B,C, D lined up and ready to go. The plan to build a tunnel around the pipeline was being floated.
"I'm not convinced that a tunnel is even possible," I said. "It would be one of the largest structures of its kind ever built. In the worst location imaginable. And Enbridge can't afford it."
What would appear, quickly, over the next few days, was a proposal to establish a new agency to oversee Line 5 and a proposed tunnel.
And winter arrived. Lame Duck was over. Our new governor was coming in, with promises to shut down the line. So that is where we find ourselves.
The legal battle for Line 5 could stretch on. And that is what we plan to cover, is the specific action being taken by the new administration.
LINE 5 is becoming a feature documentary film. We will be following our new leadership into the fray, to see just how powerful an oil company truly is.
This series, at its core, is about the relationship of people to the water. And the relationship of our government to the oil industry. These relationships work in opposition to one another. Our state has never enforced the original easement agreement, which Enbridge has violated through and through. Somehow, the needs of an oil company became more important than the needs of the people living and working in Michigan. A spill would devastate our economy for years to come. We may never recover. These are the very real threats we face each day, as 23 million gallons of oil and gas flows through that pipeline.