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Mackinac Tunnel Delayed Until 2026 after Army Corps Delays Review

March 28, 2023

Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog e-newsletter

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is extending the federal permitting process for the Line 5 tunnel project until spring 2025, which Enbridge said will effectively push the start of construction under the Mackinac Straits to 2026.

Originally, federal officials expected the federal impact statement, which is needed for a permit, to be released later in 2023, but the Army Corps received more than 17,000 comments during the National Environmental Policy Act public comment period.

“We greatly appreciate the meaningful input received throughout scoping and will use this information to shape studies and continuing consultations throughout development of our draft environmental impact statement,” said Detroit District Commander Lt. Col. Brett Boyle.

Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy said the delay would push the start of construction on the tunnel until 2026.

“While we are supportive of a thorough, comprehensive and carefully considered permitting process that ensures adequate opportunity for review and comment, we are disappointed with the extended timeline for a project of this scope,” Duffy said.

Duffy said the Canadian-based energy company submitted the application for the Line 5 tunnel in April 2020 and that any environmental impact would only occur to less than one-quarter acre of wetlands.

“We are committed to this project, the continued safe operation of the Line 5 crossing the Straits, and ensuring an uninterrupted supply of reliable, affordable energy to Michigan and the region,” he said.

Army Corps officials said the proposed construction of the tunnel would take place between Point LaBarbe, St. Ignance and McGulpin Point, Mackinaw City. It would house a new 30-inch pipeline for light crude oil and liquid natural gas and replace the existing dual pipelines crossing the Strait.

Line 5 first went into operation in 1953.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for evaluation of the permit application and to make a decision whether to issue, issue with conditions, or deny Enbridge Energy’s permit application,” said Public Affairs Officer Carrie Fox.

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