Michigan Environmental Council statement on Enbridge Line 5 tunnel report

Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) issued the following statement regarding the Enbridge report released today on building a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac to replace the Line 5 oil pipeline.

“This report does not change the fact that the State of Michigan should proceed immediately to use its legal authority and shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. The recent anchor strike of the pipelines showed that every day the state fails to act puts our Great Lakes at risk of a catastrophic oil spill.

MEC does not support a tunnel due to the potential environmental hazards posed by the continued flow of oil under the Straits, the numerous rivers and streams that Line 5 crosses, the risks presented where the pipeline runs adjacent to the Great Lakes and inland lakes, the potential environmental impacts the tunnel may have especially during construction, and Enbridge’s history of irresponsible conduct and lack of transparency.

Replacing Line 5 in the Straits is not necessary, and the state’s own independent analysis found that decommissioning Line 5 without replacement is a viable alternative.

The state has legal authority to end its 1953 Easement with Enbridge pursuant to the easement language, common law public trust doctrine, and the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act. To make sure any decision can withstand a legal challenge, we think the state should proceed in the following manner:

  1. Start an administrative or legal proceeding against Enbridge to establish that there are feasible and prudent alternatives to an oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac (including the use of other existing pipeline infrastructure) that will eliminate the risk of a pipeline rupture and devastating impacts to the Great Lakes. This proceeding should establish a date certain that the easement is nullified.
  2. It will then be Enbridge’s decision on how to proceed in the future, either through the use of its existing pipeline capacity, or through another mechanism.
  3. If Enbridge decides to propose building a replacement pipeline or tunnel, this must go through a permit application process under Michigan law that includes public input and hearing. This public process must not be eliminated through a backroom deal with the state.”


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