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MPSC Meeting Packed As More Line 5 Evidence Requested

July 11, 2022

The Michigan Public Service Commission meeting Thursday was packed with people as the commission voted to reopen the order to move Line 5 to a tunnel across the Straits of Mackinac.

MPSC Chair Dan Scripps said the vote to reopen the issue of the Line 5 tunnel would not impact the process or timeline involved with Enbridge Energy getting other necessary permits to dig the tunnel under the Straits.

“This isn’t a final order in this matter, rather this is a reopening of the record to develop a full and complete record on a number of issues including total engineering and safety and the safety of the current dual pipelines,” Scripps said.

Ryan Duffy, an Enbridge spokesperson, said the Canadian oil company would continue to work to address whatever questions the commission has regarding Line 5, but the company has already given “extensive information” about the planned tunnel.

“The MPSC decision today to continue Enbridge’s application review process has no impact on the existing pipelines across the Straits. Line 5 continues to operate safely in accordance with all federal safety standards administered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Commission,” Duffy said.

Scripps also said the order Thursday would not have any effect on the current timeline of the tunnel or any of the permitting processes.

“My understanding is that we’re not the bottleneck in this process, that ultimately, the schedule that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has set will take far longer than anything I anticipate from this,” he said.

He deferred to the administrative law judge as far as the MPSC process for the reopened order.

“I expect that there will be, shortly, a scheduling meeting where we’re going to lay that all out between the process for the initial evidence and then rebuttal evidence and putting it together,” he said.

The commission meeting was packed with both protesters and supporters of the tunnel. Most of the supporters left after the reopen order was unanimously passed by the three-person board.

“The tunnel and tunnel pipeline have never been authorized by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy as required by the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act and public trust law. Under these laws, the company must obtain authorization to use, not just construct, the public trust waters and submerged lands of Michigan. Enbridge has never obtained this authority,” Jim Olson, senior legal advisor at FLOW (For Love of Water), said.

Duffy said the operation of Line 5 is protected by the Transit Pipeline Treaty between the federal government and the government of Canada.

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