Disastrous Enbridge Line 5 tunnel permit approved
The following article was written by the Michigan Climate Action Network, a Michigan Environmental Council member group. MiCAN, along with fellow member groups Clean Water Action - Michigan and FLOW are longtime, leading advocates against the Line 5 oil pipeline that cuts through the Great Lakes.
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has granted Canadian oil giant Enbridge a permit to replace the existing Line 5 dual oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac with an untested underground pipeline tunnel.
In April 2021, we won an important victory when the MPSC ruled to include climate change in Enbridge's Line 5 permit hearing. Our experts' findings were clear and undeniable then as they are today: allowing this oil tunnel to be built will exacerbate the climate crisis, result in an estimated 27 million metric tons of CO2 emitted every year, and will cost tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in net climate impacts as a result of the added emissions. Moreover, the Commission’s decision on the ‘public need’ for the project is disputed by a recent report “Likely Market Responses to a Potential Shutdown of Line 5,” which shows the likely economic impact on a shutdown of the light crude pipeline at the Straits of Mackinac would be minimal.
The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) represents MiCAN as an intervenor in Enbridge’s tunnel permit case before the Public Service Commission.
“This is not a surprise, but it is a disappointment,” said Dr. Denise Keele, executive director of MiCAN. “The tunnel is an unnecessary and dangerous investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure. Allowing the tunnel perpetuates our dependence on oil and gas and delays the transition to renewable energy the Commission says it supports. We are saddened that the Commission had so little regard for the thousands of citizens' comments opposing the tunnel and so little concern for the safety of the public from the disastrous climate change impacts extending the life of this pipeline will create.”
“This is not the end and there may be appeals,” said Scott Strand, Managing Attorney with Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). “This tunnel project cannot go forward without permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and that is not going to happen for years, if it happens at all. The tunnel also needs permits from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and those issues are on appeal. The federal court in Wisconsin has ordered Line 5 shut down in less than three years. And the Michigan Attorney General is still suing to shut down line 5 in state court. This battle is far from over.”