Line 5 Oil Spill Potential Damages and Economic Impacts to Michigan Could Top $6 Billion, FLOW Study Finds

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.--()--A Line 5 oil spill at Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac could deliver a blow of $6 billion in economic impacts and natural resource damages to Michigan’s economy, according to a study commissioned by FLOW, a science, law and policy center in Traverse City, Michigan.

“This study puts credible numbers behind what common sense tells us, that a Line 5 spill could cause catastrophic economic impacts in addition to environmental destruction. It’s another compelling reason for the state to take swift action to shut down Line 5”

Conducted by nationally respected ecological economist Robert Richardson of Michigan State University, the study adds up potential costs of a Line 5 spill into the Straits of Mackinac and adjoining waters under a realistic – but not worst-case – scenario.

“This study puts credible numbers behind what common sense tells us, that a Line 5 spill could cause catastrophic economic impacts in addition to environmental destruction. It’s another compelling reason for the state to take swift action to shut down Line 5,” said Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW.

Enbridge Energy owns and operates the twin 65-year-old pipelines that span the Straits between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula. Faulty maintenance, unpredictable currents and an early April anchor strike that dented the lines have underscored the risk they pose to the Great Lakes. Enbridge is the same firm responsible for the largest (by surface area affected) and most costly inland oil spill in American history. An Enbridge pipeline ruptured near Marshall, Michigan in July 2010, and according to the company, it released more than 840,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River system.

The report’s estimates are likely conservative. The study does not depict a worst-case spill. It estimates $697.5 million in natural resource damage costs and restoration and more than $5.6 billion in total economic impacts, including:

  • $4.8 billion in economic impacts to the tourism economy;
  • $61 million in economic impacts to commercial fishing;
  • $233 million in economic impacts to municipal water systems;
  • Over $485 million in economic impacts to coastal property values.

An associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University, Dr. Richardson is a former member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He is a former officer and board member of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics and member of the International Society for Ecological Economics.

Contacts

Michigan State University
Dr. Robert Richardson, (517) 355-9533
rbr@msu.edu
or
FLOW (For Love of Water)
Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director
Office: (231) 944-1568, Cell: (570) 872-4956
Liz@FLOWforWater.org