Great Lakes, Bad Lines

Great Lakes, Bad Lines

2016, Environment  -   15 Comments
Ratings: 7.93/10 from 110 users.

Many environmental documentaries recount the aftermath of a grave disaster. Great Lakes, Bad Lines is refreshingly different in this regard. The film concerns the inevitable erosion and malfunction of Enbridge Line 5, a Canadian-owned pipeline that stretches across over 500 miles and transports 23 million gallons of oil through much of Michigan's Great Lakes on a daily basis. The line was built over 60 years ago, and is in urgent need of repair. Experts agree that something needs to be done, or the region will inevitably suffer one of the worst environmental catastrophes in recorded history. The film is a convincing and proactive effort to raise awareness and provoke change.

You don't have to be a resident of Michigan to recognize the importance of the Great Lakes. Beyond the aesthetic appeal of its beautiful and pristine waters, the lakes constitute a significant percentage of the world's fresh water, and many tens of millions of United States citizens live along its shores and depend upon its natural resources. An oil spill would spell doom for the sensitive ecological balance of the lakes, and their strong and unpredictable currents would make such a spill nearly impossible to contain.

The film follows two environmental activists as they travel along the route of the pipeline, and speak with a series of experts and ordinary residents along the way, many of whom will directly suffer when the impending disaster occurs. There is precedent for such a disaster in the region, as Enbridge's Line 6B ruptured in Michigan's Kalamazoo Lake in 2010 and caused the worst inland oil spill in history.

For its part, Enbridge, Inc. has taken only meager steps to reinforce the existing lines with vastly inefficient support structures. The sluggish response to a potential disaster falls squarely on the shoulders of state officials, who have thus far prioritized corporate interests over the safety of their own citizens. Clearly, further action will not be taken unless these officials are motivated by the vocal insistence of the people. With great urgency and visual flair, Great Lakes, Bad Lines represents an inspiring attempt to organize that movement.

Directed by: Colin McCarthy

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4 years ago

This was nothing more than a paid surf/cycling/rock climbing trip for the filmmakers. I seriously was so disappointed by the lack of information and feel like I learned nothing more than I already knew about pipelines. 5 mins of doc was about pipelines...25 about them surfing and rock climbing.

Matthew Crombie
4 years ago

love this doco. thanks for the pick me up!

John Spencer
4 years ago

Thanks i really enjoyed seeing the beauty of the great lakes, from my home in Christchurch, New Zealand, fantastic!

Mr Positive
5 years ago

In the age of sad but true environmental documentaries, Great Lakes-Bad Lines does a light hearted and easy to watch job of showing the beauty of travelling our Great Lakes while acknowledging that there is a lurking danger in Line 5. Every once in a while it is good to just sit back and enjoy the flick so that we can remember what we are fighting for. Unlike previous comments, I loved the lightness and happiness the guys brought to the screen.

Virtue Signal
6 years ago

Typical do nothing environmentalist: feels good to virtue signal.

Adam Bechtol
6 years ago

First time commenting here.

I'm with Roger, George, and DustUp.

Maybe 1-3% is about the pipeline itself in the beginning.

I get it, awareness, blah blah, but really a lot of what they are making us aware of is the beauty of the Great Lakes region, which may not be terribly necessary if you know what I mean.

Speaking of beauty though the cinematography is quite good!
The film as an effective tool concerning the issue in question? Not so much.

6 years ago

Some months later, watched this. Agree with Roger Andout above. They could have accomplished more of what they claimed they wanted to do, which is get people aware and active, by spending the dough sending out large orange post cards to area locals of a meeting place and time including a statement similar to "Did you know the huge oil pipeline running through your backyard is 13 years older than its designed lifespan and will likely burst spilling horrendous amount of oil into your waters and your life unless we gather together to stop that from happening." "How would such an oil spill affect you?" Then put on a 10-15min video similar to the beginning of this one without the dudes having a vacation at Patagonia's expense. The dough could help pay the "Flo" gal to keep the organizing going for awhile until self sustaining.

To me these guys just wanted to make themselves feel good. Symbolism over substance.

6 years ago

Wasted my time watching this and didnt learn anything.

6 years ago

George and Roger A. Thanks for saving me 30 min. since I'm already aware of the risk ANY pipeline inflicts upon its surroundings, let alone an aging one. I used to think environmentalists were kooks until a corp. decided everyone in my area needed to have 3ft dia. gas pipe shoved up their back yard.

You will find that most pipeline incidents (not accidents since preventable) are caused by the pipeline companies modus operandi of profit before safety. Meaning small leaks are ignored since it would cost much more to shut down everything, dig it up, fix, bury, etc. Not to mention some of their customers would be out of gas.

No doubt there is a conscientious pipeline company somewhere in the world. Good on them. Not sure where though. My experience and that of those I know in other states find that energy companies are like politicians and lawyers. Lie, lie, lie, and then lie some more. Bully, use the courts, eminent domain when there is no public need, etc.

Best thing we could do is keep all that fossil fuel in the ground. The energy lobby bought politicians aren't going to help you develop viable alternatives so you will have to do it yourself. You could start by checking out Patrick J. Kelly "A Practical Guide To Free-Energy Devices" Now before the know it all engineers and physicists have a kanipshun fit... A solar panel is a "free-energy device". There are others. The device isn't free, they all cost money to build. Some in his compendium don't work so use at your own risk.

Did they not teach you many of the experiments Tesla performed and devices he built which go against the theories still pushed today? Likely not since they didn't me. Rest assured his brilliance didn't end with AC electricity. How about a much safer form of electricity he developed which is high voltage pulsed DC which can light an incandescent and a fluorescent bulb held in your hand under water. How about his wireless magnifying transmitter? Key word being magnifying. He has over 200 patents and I suspect he was able to make all of them work as claimed. He had no need to patent things that didn't work. Since high voltage isn't for everybody there are other items and why I suggest the guide from Kelly which he provides freely as doing his part. Hats off to Mr. Kelly.

6 years ago

I thought this was suppose ti be about the environment and an aging pipeline. So far it's been more about a couple of kids takings road trip. If it hadn't been for the opening, I would never known there was a problem with the pipeline. And I agree with Roger Andout comment.

Rodger's Adverse Responder
6 years ago

Roger Andout - I will gladly respond to your trollish and unnecessary remarks!

Let me break this down for you. As the name of this website suggests, the film you watched was indeed a documentary (noun: a movie or a television or radio program that provides a factual record or report, often to highlight an issue of importance or concern). So you are only right in your assessment that the film does "highlight" a potential environmental disaster. However, you appear to assume that the filmmakers are exploiting the potential environmental disaster discussed rather than create awareness for it; which is what has actually happened: Furthermore, via your snide "jolly" remark, you are incorrectly assuming that "these two" simply did this for their own enjoyment. As a matter of fact, the filmmakers clearly state in the beginning of the film that they would be making their trek along the pipeline using various methods of fossil-fuel-free transportation, all the while speaking with local residents about what sort of negative effects this disaster would have on their ways of life. It should also be noted (since you clearly spend your time indoors writing negative comments about things meant to have a positive impact) that all of those methods of transportation mentioned are inherently enjoyable by most people's standards. So yes, the "goons" you mentioned definitely did have a good time during the making of this film. Perhaps you should ask them to add a disclaimer since their enjoyment and forward approach to shedding light on a serious issue was not up to your standards.

As for the grant (noun: non-repayable funds or products disbursed by one party, often a government department, corporation, foundation or trust, to a recipient, often a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business or an individual for the purpose of funding a specified project or purpose), yes you are correct that they received one. An astute observation.

Finally, I do sincerely apologize that my response to this has inevitably taken up even more of your apparent precious time. However, you did technically waste more of your own time by posting about the time this documentary had already wasted for you. So really, my time-wasting was on your own invitation.

In conclusion, I disagree with your assessment of the film. Bravo to these goons! Seem like a couple of real good guys.

William Allen
6 years ago

They are not just Michigan's great lakes.

Roger Andout
6 years ago

So, an environmental disaster is waiting to happen and these two go on, what I can only describe as a "jolly", to highlight it.
All I saw was the same two goons having a good time And get a grant to boot!
Thankfully it was only 30 minutes but I'll never get them back.
I await the adverse comments!!!

6 years ago

Wildlife loves oil. #freetheoil

Boho Mamó
6 years ago

Excited to see this! One correction, Line 6B actually leaked into the Kalamazoo River, not lake.