Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes

Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes
April 25, 2018 paperlesslion

Tonight! – A new documentary examines the controversial oil pipelines traversing underneath the Straits of Mackinac. “Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes”  Debuts April 25 at 10 p.m., immediately followed by a special broadcast of a roundtable discussion on the future of Line 5. Watch on DPTV (Ch. 56) or via the livestream at

Details from Detroit Public Television Channel 56:

Detroit Public Television is releasing an important documentary just as news headlines about the Line 5 oil and gas pipeline in the Great Lakes are occurring almost daily, including recent reports of ship-related damage to the pipeline and weather-related shutdowns. Detroit Public Television (DPTV) and its Great Lakes Bureau debut their latest film about the environment, exploring a range of current hot button issues and potential threats to the Great Lakes from the now controversial Line 5 pipeline.

The film, “Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes” airs Wednesday, April 25 at 10 p.m. on DPTV (Ch. 56).

The documentary explores the history of the 65-year-old underwater pipeline, as well as who is in charge of protecting the Great Lakes and what regulations are in place to safeguard the planet’s largest source of fresh, clean drinking water now and for future generations.

Additionally, in response to the mounting number of recent developments regarding the Line 5 pipeline, DPTV’s Great Lakes Bureau will also debut a half-hour special, immediately after the documentary, at 10:30 p.m., featuring a discussion with Great Lakes experts on recent damage to the Line 5 pipeline, pipeline operator Enbridge corporation’s communications with Michigan officials and its recent deal with Gov. Rick Snyder, as well as thoughts on the future of Line 5.

Hosted by DPTV’s MiWeek Managing Editor, Christy McDonald, the roundtable includes Nick Schroeck, Wayne State professor of environmental and energy law, Dr. Mike Shriberg, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, and DPTV Great Lakes Bureau Chief Mary Ellen Geist, producer of “Beneath the Surface.”

Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes – premieres April 25 at 10 p.m. on DPTV (56.1)

The Great Lakes are a destination for recreational boaters and anglers. Tourists spend billions of dollars in the eight states and two Canadian provinces that share the lakes’ 10,000 miles of shoreline.

A recent analysis shows more than 5 million jobs are directly connected to the five Great Lakes, generating $62 billion in wages. More than 40 million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes.

But hidden beneath the surface of the lakes, dozens of pipelines carry millions of gallons of oil and gas daily. One of them lies underneath the waters of Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac.

Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes,” produced by Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Bureau in association with Stone Hut Studios, examines the controversy surrounding the Line 5 pipeline built by Enbridge Inc., a pipeline that was constructed and placed on the lakebed between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas more than a half century ago. It operates underwater near the Mackinac Bridge in a spot considered one of the most scenic areas of the Great Lakes and also known for its strong currents between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

The new half-hour documentary offers sweeping views of the Great Lakes and presents voices on all sides of the issue, including residents who live in a community devastated by the nation’s largest inland oil spill along Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The spill was created in 2010 by a pipeline owned by Enbridge, and the disaster brought public awareness to the existence of Line 5 – an engineering innovation in its time, originally built to be a safer way to transport oil across the Great Lakes.

The film features interviews with environmentalists and residents concerned about potential damage to the lakes, as well as scientists who have calculated the probable severity and scale of the potential environmental threat posed by the aging pipeline and petroleum experts and manufacturers who discuss the vital importance of easy, affordable access to oil and gas for heating people’s homes and manufacturing products that drive Michigan’s economy.

The film also incorporates discussions with representatives from Enbridge, who say the corporation has tried to learn from its mistakes. The filmmakers also met with tribal leaders filing a lawsuit against Enbridge, who believe they have the right to shut down the pipeline because it has violated their tribal laws and treaty rights. Along with interviews and archival footage, the film includes cinematic views of the lakes from the land, air and water.

Viewers can join the discussion about this film online using the hashtag #GLNline5doc and the program will also be livestreamed during the broadcast at Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes, where it will be archived for later viewing.

The image of the diver above is courtesy National Wildlife Federation.

Watch trailer:

Funding for the film was provided by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Consumers Energy Foundation, The Richard C. Devereaux Foundation, Eve & Jerry Jung, The Polk Family Fund, Timothy Wadhams, Americana Foundation, The Carver Family, Paul R. Dimond, Amherst & Janeth Turner, Bruce Wallace & Susie Cannell, Phillip Roos, Mary Quilling and Tony Infante.