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Enbridge halts Line 5 Michigan ads featuring U.S. scientist, apologizes

NOAA screen capture

LANSING — Enbridge Energy, the company that’s fighting to keep its oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, issued an apology Monday night after repeatedly using a photo of a U.S. government scientist in a statewide advertising campaign. The ad, which environmental groups and other critics said was misleading, will no longer run, Enbridge said.  

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network and Bridge Magazine first reported earlier Monday that Enbridge’s newspaper ads had prominently featured the scientist, Eric Anderson, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. 

Anderson is shown in the ad working on the Straits, but the logo of his government agency was removed from the photo. The Enbridge headline says: “We’re working to protect Michigan’s water.” 

“It looks like Enbridge has hired water quality analysts in the Great Lakes,” Mike Shriberg, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, said of the photo. “To me, it shows a pattern of misinformation.”

A spokeswoman for NOAA said neither Anderson nor the agency gave Enbridge permission to use Anderson’s image in the ads.

Ryan Duffy, a spokesman for Enbridge, said in an email Monday evening that Enbridge had removed the ad containing Anderson’s image from circulation.

“We apologize to the scientist and to the administration and regret any concerns this may have caused,” Duffy said.

Duffy said Enbridge had used the image of Anderson placing an instrument in the water during an oil spill drill in 2015 because it also featured a weather monitoring buoy that Enbridge had helped launch in the Great Lakes. The buoy was the result of a partnership between Enbridge and Michigan Tech. According to a past Enbridge press release, the buoy “provides one more layer of safety and protection in the region.”

Enbridge’s advertisements touted the company’s efforts to protect the Great Lakes as the company fights to keep its oil and gas pipeline running below the Straits.

“The Great Lakes are important to Michigan, and we all want to protect the Straits of Mackinac,” the advertisement said. “That’s why we’ve implemented enhanced safety measures to protect the environment, including increased monitoring and alerts to ships to prevent anchor strikes.”

The full-page ads featuring Anderson had run in many of Michigan’s largest newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press, The Flint Journal, Lansing State Journal, Traverse City Record-Eagle, and other small publications, including the Cheboygan Daily Tribune and the Mackinac Island Town Crier.

But the ads have frustrated scientists who’ve worked alongside Anderson, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network and Bridge Magazine reported earlier.

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