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Oversight authority on pipeline tunnel plan on its way to governor’s desk

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
A new bill would create a commission to oversee the construction of a tunnel around Line 5.

A bill that would let Enbridge Energy build a tunnel under the bedrock of the Straits of Mackinac is now on its way to the governor's desk. Enbridge would replace the section of Line 5 that runs under the Straits, and build a new section of pipeline that would run through the tunnel.

The bill creates a commission to oversee the construction and use of the tunnel and pipeline by Enbridge. The bill also lets Governor Rick Snyder carry out the proposed deal he made with Enbridge to create the tunnel.

Representative Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) says the bill moved too fast.

“The role of the Legislature is to get in there and analyze it and really come to a strong solution that the taxpayers across the state, the voters across the state, have time to weigh in as well,” she says.

Opponents – from environmentalists to Great Lakes business groups – are worried. They say there are potential long-term implications of building this new section of pipeline. That’s in part because it would mean keeping the current Enbridge Line 5 open for an unknown length of time while the new tunnel is built. Line 5 is more than 60 years old and was recently dented.

Editor's note: Enbridge Energy is a corporate sponsor 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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