While the Environmental Protection Agency has been targeted for budget cuts, natural resources throughout the United States are under threat. Lake Michigan and a series of interconnected fresh water lakes, called the Great Lakes, supply drinking water to millions and are both a vital liquid asset for residents as well as the keystone which ensures ecological balance for the states along its shores.

The threat to the Great Lakes is realEcoWatch has disturbing information about the Enbridge Energy Partners’ Line 5 pipeline “which runs through the heart of the Great Lakes.” The conduit has spilled more than 1 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids in at least 29 incidents since 1968, according to data from the federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration obtained by the National Wildlife Federation.

Built in 1953, the 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline carries petroleum to eastern Canada via the Great Lakes states. As it travels under the Straits of Mackinac, a narrow waterway that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, Line 5 splits into twin 20-inch-diameter, parallel pipelines.”

The risks posed by a break in the Line 5 pipeline would be grave since the Great Lakes contain 21% of the world’s fresh surface water and form the Earth’s largest fresh body of water. The lakes are known to have strong water flows which cause the currents to regularly reverse direction. Thus, a Line 5 spill would quickly disperse oil throughout the Great Lakes basin.

Enbridge has been found responsible in quite a few oil-related ecological disasters. The most egregious example was in 2010 when a pipeline spewed more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The incident is still the record holder for being the United States’ largest inland oil spill.