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Enbridge to add 54 supports to Line 5 section under Straits of Mackinac

Enbridge Energy

Enbridge Energy says it will begin to immediately install 54 additional steel supports along a section of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. That's after the company received a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the work.

Mike Shriberg is with the National Wildlife Federation. He says it's a good idea to add the supports, but even so, the aging Line 5 needs to be shut down as soon as possible.

"In the location of the Straits, it's inherently not possible to operate the line safely," says Shriberg. "And so single or multiple supports is not going to change that basic dynamic."

Enbridge says it can safely operate the current pipeline, while it pursues replacing the section of Line 5 under the Straits with a new section inside a tunnel under the lakebed.

Meanwhile, Enbridge is suing the state of Michigan after it withdrew from a Snyder administration agreement on the tunnel project. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is suing Enbridge, seeking to stop the construction of the tunnel.

Another lawsuit has been filed by the National Wildlife Federation, claiming the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) approval of Enbridge's spill response plan was arbitrary and capricious.

The group argues that there is simply no way Enbridge could respond to a spill in the dynamic waters of the Straits that could avoid an environmental catastrophe in the Great Lakes.

A federal judge agreed. That case is currently before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Editor's note: Enbridge Energy is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.