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Construction of Enbridge's Great Lakes tunnel to begin next year. Regulators want more details.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush
Michigan Radio

Michigan regulators want more information from Enbridge about its plan to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy told the company in a letter this week its application is “incomplete.” Gongwer News Service reports EGLE “took issue with Enbridge currently not submitting finalized dimensions for the pipeline, such as an exact diameter.”

“Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy said pending the receipts of necessary permits and approvals, the company still anticipates beginning construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel sometime in 2021 and to have the replacement Line 5 segment operational in 2024,” Gongwer reported.

Enbridge also has to produce an analysis of "feasible and prudent" alternatives to the tunnel plan. And EGLE needs to see the company’s plans for dealing with protected wetlands and plants. State officials describe the request as routine and Enbridge says it will provide the needed information.

Environmental groups say the request shows the state might consider environmental threats posed by pipelines.

Gongwer reported a joint statement released by Oil and Water Don't Mix, the Bay Mills Indian Community, For the Love of Water and the Michigan Climate Action Network on Wednesday applauded EGLE for demanding stricter scrutiny from Enbridge on how its project could impact the state's ecology.

“The Whitmer administration's decisions on Line 5 will likely define her environmental record as much as anything else she does as governor,” Sean McBrearty, coordinator for the group Oil and Water Don't Mix, said in a statement Wednesday. “This initial step means EGLE isn't just rubber-stamping Enbridge's permit application but will apply appropriate environmental standards in making the decision.”

Enbridge Energy is a corporate supporter of Michigan Radio.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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