Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Pipeline 5: Michigan approves Enbridge project

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A station where the start of a section of Line 5 is located.

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Michigan officials on Friday approved Enbridge's plan to revitalize and tunnel a portion of the aging Line 5 pipeline that runs under the strait connecting two Big lakes. There therefore remains only one regulatory barrier before the construction of this controversial project.

The project was submitted in 2021. The Canadian company estimated then its cost at 500 million dollars.

The state's three-person Public Service Commission approved the project in the Straits of Mackinac with a 2-0 vote. Commissioner Alessandra Carreon abstained, noting that she has only been a member of the commission for four months.

Dan Scripps, chairman of the commission, said the tunnel is the best way to reduce the risk of leaks as the state gradually moves toward renewable energy. An oil spill in the strait would be, in a word, catastrophic, he said.

Opponents of the project have expressed their discontent, one by one, in front of the members of the commission. They criticize the project and say it aims to prolong the use of fossil fuels while representing a risk to the environment.

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The project still requires approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is currently compiling an environmental impact statement. The final decision may not be made until 2026.

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The route of Enbridge Line 5 which crosses part of Michigan and the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge Energy has operated Line 5 since 1953. It transports up to 87 million liters of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ohio.

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Enbridge is responsible for Line 5. (Archives)

We believe this agreement makes a safe pipeline even safer, added Ryan Duffy, Enbridge spokesperson.

A 6-kilometer section of Line 5 crosses the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. After an Enbridge pipeline leaked about 79,500 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan in 2010, the state formed a task force to examine the oil pipelines in the state, including Line 5.

I am disgusted with your vote, Andrea Pierce, who works with the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition and is a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, who oppose the project, told the commission.

Current Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, wants Line 5 closed for good.

The risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes is real, Whitmer said.

For its part, Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alberta, says the pipeline is safe and has ignored the closure deadline imposed by the governor. Democratic Justice Secretary Dana Nessel filed a state lawsuit in 2019 to overturn Enbridge's Straits easement. A federal appeals court considers whether the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of state or federal courts.

With information from Associated Press and Reuters

By admin

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