LANSING, Mich. (WZMQ) – The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Enbridge Energy, the Canadian company responsible for the Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, are responding to State Senate Republicans’ call for action on the tunnel project.
The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 2024, but new timelines estimate the project won’t even break ground until 2026 at the earliest. Currently, the project is caught up in red tape, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts studies of the project site.
U.P. Senator, Ed McBroom, said The USACE has to give permission to build the tunnel at the portal on either side of the shore because of the proximity to the Great Lakes. Senator McBroom was one of 18 republican senators to sign a letter requesting the timetable for the project be moved forward.
Following the release of the letter, Michigan’s Attorney General released her own brief in support of a supreme court case in Wisconsin and the emergency shutdown of Line 5. The lawsuit was filed by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, It ordered Enbridge to shutter portions of the pipeline that run through tribal land within three years and to pay the tribe nearly $5.2 million for trespassing plus a portion of its profits until the shutdown is completed.
Both Enbridge and the Bad River Band have filed appeals.
U.P. State representative Dave Prestin says he thinks the project is only being brought up again for political reasons, and that any shutdown would be detrimental economically.
“It is a method of commerce that is so vitally important to the midwest, not just the up.” Representative Prestin said. “It’s incredibly important to us for our propane, but it’s incredibly important to the region.”
WZMQ reached out to the Michigan headquarters for Enbridge Energy about the impacts of a potential shutdown. Spokesperson Ryan Duffy responded with the following statement:
Enbridge is focused on moving Line 5 out of the water and into the Great Lakes Tunnel because protecting the Great Lakes is our top priority. Our team continues to make progress on plans for getting this done as soon as possible. We are also working to be responsive to permitting agencies as they complete their reviews. The majority of people in Michigan agree that the tunnel is the best solution for Line 5 going forward.
Any shut down of Line 5 would cause shortages and price increases for the millions of people who rely on the pipeline for energy every day. Line 5’s operation is critical to the economies of the U.S. and Canada and its shutdown would cost thousands of jobs and force the closure of refineries and propane producers.– Ryan Duffy, Enbrige Spokesperson
Enbridge and the USACE haven’t released any official statements that imply intentions of shutting down the pipeline. Carrie Fox, the Acting Public Affairs Chief for the USACE said the Corps is just following procedures to prepare a national Environmental Impact statement (EIS).
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is following the procedures and guidance for preparing a National Environmental Policy Act Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An EIS is warranted based on the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline Tunnel project’s potential to have significant impacts on the quality of the human environment. USACE updated the schedule in March 2023 following review and consideration of input from the EIS public scoping sessions. USACE consulted with Enbridge regarding the EIS schedule, and the schedule represents a realistic timeline for development of an EIS, based on an understanding of the studies and consultation necessary to support the EIS.-Carrie Fox, USACE – Detroit District
The Detroit District of the USACE said the publication of the EIS was originally expected in late 2023 but is now projecting a spring 2025 publication.