This paper will examine the tribal interests at stake in the controversy surrounding Enbridge Oil Pipeline 5 (“Line 5”), and will explore why it is consistent with Michigan’s treaty obligations and public trust principles to remove the pipeline from the Straits of Mackinac. The Line runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the convergence of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and is nearly 70 years old. Should the pipeline burst, the resulting spill would irreparably harm fisheries in the Straits and impair tribal treaty rights to fish in the Great Lakes. Part I will provide a roadmap overview. Part II will explore the cultural and legal history of tribal fishing in the Great Lakes. Part III will discuss the lessons from a factually similar case in Washington State, decided by the Ninth Circuit and affirmed by an equally divided Supreme Court in 2018. Part IV will discuss the State of Michigan’s public trust obligations, its treaty obligations, and the risk Line 5 poses to the public interest of Michigan and tribes.



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