Why we're appealing a judge's Line 5 tunnel ruling

Michigan Environmental Council and its fellow Line 5 legal intervenors plan to appeal the decision of a Michigan Public Service Commission Administrative Law Judge regarding the Commission’s review of Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel proposal.

Judge Dennis Mack ruled Tuesday that the Commission must consider environmental impacts when deciding to permit a tunnel that could surround the Line 5 oil pipeline through the Great Lakes for as long as a century. But Mack also ruled that the Commission cannot consider impacts in the context of climate change or the need for the fossil fuels Line 5 transports.

The intervenors' appeal will go before the Commission.

“This ruling is simply the next procedural step before the Public Service Commission makes their final ruling on the scope of the case,” said Sean Hammond, policy director at Michigan Environmental Council. “We remain dedicated to the position that any review of the public need of a 99-year-old oil tunnel must be holistic of Michigan’s specific need for the fossils fuels transported. Michiganders should not be forced to take on the potentially devastating risks associated with hosting a shortcut to get oil from one part of Canada to another.”

“A project of this magnitude, carried out by a company that is currently attempting to strip the state of Michigan of its fundamental rights to manage our land and water, requires the upmost scrutiny,” said Beth Wallace, Great Lakes freshwater campaigns manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “Line 5 has never been evaluated for need, alternatives or environmental impact. Enbridge’s proposal to keep this line operational, by drilling through the bottomlands of our shared waters, deserves a comprehensive evaluation. Enbridge’s attempts to limit that evaluation should be alarming to all Michiganders.”

“The ruling limiting the scope of what can be considered when evaluating the future of Line 5 is disheartening, but not surprising,” said Jennifer McKay, policy director for MEC member group Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and MEC board director. “The Commission previously noted that Enbridge’s Line 5 project involves significant factual and policy questions and complex legal determinations that can only be resolved with the benefit of discovery, comprehensive testimony and evidence, and a well-developed record. We fully expect the Commission to allow for a thorough, transparent and robust analysis, incorporating consideration of all necessary factors in order to make a wise decision for the citizens of Michigan.”

Photo courtesy of Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
By National Wildlife Federation; edited by Beau Brockett Jr.