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Enbridge Line 5 relocation case must include review of a proposed tunnel

This Enbridge boat is one of several on standby in the event of an oil spill.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The oil pipeline company Enbridge pushed to limit what a state regulator could consider regarding relocating the Line 5 twin pipelines across the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge did not want the Michigan Public Service Commission to consider a proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac which would house a new section of Line 5.

A state administrative law judge ruled you can’t really separate a decision about relocating the pipeline without considering the tunnel.

Environmentalists applauded that ruling, but were disappointed the judge ruled the commission should not consider the oil pipeline’s effect on climate change as part of its deliberation.

“We believe Enbridge should be held directly accountable by the MPSC for climate impacts,” the group Oil and Water Don’t Mix said in a statement.

The judge also rejected Enbridge’s contention that the tunnel doesn’t need to comply with the Michigan Environmental Protection Act. But, the judge said that should not be part of the Public Service Commission’s case. Instead, that should be left to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

A statement from Enbridge said it appreciates the judge’s decision “to limit the scope of the case to the relocation of the replacement pipeline within the Great Lakes Tunnel.”

Editors note: Enbridge is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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