Enbridge seeks permit to build oil tunnel beneath Straits of Mackinac

MLive — Enbridge Inc. applied Wednesday for state and federal authorization to construct an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Michigan waterway that connects two of the Great Lakes.

The Canadian company wants to build a roughly 4-mile-long tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac. It would replace the underwater segment of Line 5, a pipeline that runs between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.

According to the Associated Press, Enbridge submitted a joint application to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Approval from both is needed for the project to go forward.

Line 5 each day carries 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids used for propane. It divides into two pipes beneath the straits, which links Lakes Michigan and Huron — an ecologically sensitive area and popular tourist destination.

Environmental contend Line 5 is vulnerable to leaks after lying on the bottom of the straits for 67 years. Enbridge says it is in good condition and is monitored closely but agreed to spend $500 million on a replacement that would be housed in a tunnel drilled through bedrock underneath the straits, AP reports.

The Michigan Court of Claims last year upheld an agreement between the company and former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to construct the tunnel, rejecting a challenge from Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Nessel has filed a separate lawsuit demanding the shutdown of the existing Line 5 as a public nuisance and environmental hazard.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also has spoken against the pipeline and tried unsuccessfully to negotiate an accelerated timeline for building the tunnel, which Enbridge plans to start next year and finish in 2024.

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