Line 5 tunnel is not a done deal

Michigan Public Service Commission meeting today another way to properly oversee Enbridge’s proposal

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 tunnel proposal is in no way a done deal, and a hearing Friday before the Michigan Public Service Commission is just one example of the continued review process the corporation must undergo, several environmental groups said today.

While Enbridge Energy may have received permits from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) for the Line 5 tunnel, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Before construction can begin, Enbridge still needs approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Michigan Public Service Commission and multiple local municipalities.

“Obtaining these permits will take, at a minimum, another year, and if the agencies are diligent in administering federal and state laws, will prove to be a tall order for Enbridge,” said Jennifer McKay, policy director for Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. “To date, Enbridge has failed to demonstrate that Michigan needs this pipeline to meet our state’s future oil demand. In addition, projects like the Line 5 tunnel don't only need the state and federal permits to go forward, they also need a social permit. Therefore, as the process moves forward, I hope all the agencies will continue meeting with Michiganders passionate about this issue and engage in meaningful consultation with affected tribes.”

The Whitmer and Biden administrations should direct agencies to more thoroughly vet companies like Enbridge – with horrible records for compliance – the groups said.

“Any project that plans to blast through the bottomlands of our Great Lakes requires incredible scrutiny and full transparency to the public to ensure our most valuable resource is protected,” said Beth Wallace, Great Lakes freshwater campaigns manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “Today Enbridge attempted, once again, to stonewall public review of the project as it fights to stop independent assessments of alternatives, a review of need and a review of full environmental impacts. Enbridge is attempting to strip the state of Michigan of its right to manage our land and water.”

“Today's hearing reminds us that despite EGLE issuing permits last week, the Enbridge tunnel project still has significant hurdles to overcome before it begins,” said Sean Hammond, policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “The permits issued so far do not begin to answer the myriad of questions surrounding this project, including analysis the MPSC is undertaking to determine whether there is a public need in Michigan for this project that uses our Great Lakes as a shortcut to ship Canadian oil back to Canada.”

“Enbridge’s continued efforts to suppress public input and further investigation into its proposed tunnel pipeline only underscores the company's acknowledgment that this project is reckless and ill-advised,” said Whitney Gravelle, tribal attorney for the Bay Mills Indian Community. “Bay Mills will continue to sound the alarm to the Army Corps and the Michigan Public Service Commission about the incredibly grave threats this project poses to our state’s fragile waters, the Tribe’s treaty rights and cultural resources, and the communities who depend on the Great Lakes for survival. Our elected officials campaigned on prioritizing Indigenous sovereignty, divesting from fossil fuels and safeguarding our natural resources. These are the moments where those commitments must translate into action.”

By Byrum & Fisk; edited by Beau Brockett Jr.