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State agencies hear public comment for Enbridge Line 5 pipeline

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline continues to face public scrutiny.

Several state officials heard public comment on Tuesday. It was the first of three such sessions planned around the state.

The Enbridge Line 5 pipeline carries crude oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac. Environmental groups say that could lead to disaster.

The feedback will be taken into consideration by independent contractors working on a final report about possible alternatives to the pipeline. A draft of the report was released several weeks ago.

Melody Kindraka is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. She said the feedback is important for deciding the future of Line 5.

“We recognize that there’s a lot of public interest around this topic and we wanted to offer multiple opportunities for people to have their voice to be heard and give us their input,” she said.

Lisa Bashert of Ypsilanti was one of the just over one hundred people in attendance at Tuesday’s early morning session in Holt.

“What’s at stake is one-fifth of the world’s fresh water!” said Bashert, who believes there’s no amount of acceptable risk when it comes to the water in the Great Lakes.

She said the government is failing to protect the interests of all Michiganders by keeping the pipeline open.

But many corporations say it can be operated safely -- and it’s the best way to transport fuel to the Upper Peninsula.

“Our members are concerned about losing this piece of infrastructure that’s in good shape, and instead shifting the risk to the state of Michigan people via whatever other method we would use to transport the crude,” said Jeffrey Cook, chairman of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association.

The public comment about the draft report is open until August 4. Then the public can respond on the website to the initial comments until August 19. The state hopes to have a final draft of the report by the fall.

You can submit comments towww.mipetroleumpipelines.com or mail your comments to Michigan Agency for Energy, Attn: Line 5 Pipeline Study, P.O. Box 30221, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing, MI 48917

In full disclosure, Enbridge Energy is a financial supporter of Michigan Radio.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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