Oil Pipeline Tunnel Deal Could Happen In Michigan For Enbridge

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LANSING (WWJ) – A new battle could be brewing over plans to bury Line 5 even deeper — with a proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.

Some believe Michigan Governor Rick Snyder could announce a plan for a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac to house the controversial and aging Pipeline 5, a 5-mile-long (8-kilometer-long) scenic waterway with high value to the tourist industry and Great Lakes environment. Enbridge’s Line 5, carries nearly 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of oil and liquid natural gas daily across northern Wisconsin and Michigan to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario.

Sean McBrearty of the environmental group Clean Water Action is against the idea.

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“Now is absolutely the wrong time, in the waning days of Snyder’s administration, for him to try to come in and lock Michigan into this poorly thought out, backroom deal with Enbridge to allow an oil pipeline to function in the heart of the Great Lakes for years to come,” said McBrearty.

The Canadian oil transport company Enbridge Inc. had earlier stated the project would take five to seven years to build with a price tag between $300 and $500 million.

Although the federal government regulates oil pipelines, Michigan owns the lake bottom and granted an easement to the company allowing the pipeline to go there.

“So we are looking at a $500 million dollar investment to tunnel through the Straits of Mackinac – allowing them to do this – circumventing all of our environmental laws, for what is really a short-term gain for a Canadian energy giant that does nothing for Michigan.”

The Enbridge company is behind one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history — releasing more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan waters from a broken pipeline in 2010. The spill spoiled approximately 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek.

EPA says crews removed 1.1 million gallons of oil and 200,000 cubic yards of oil-contaminated sediment and debris from the site.

Enbridge says total costs from the disaster were pegged at $1.2 billion with the majority of costs covered by insurance.

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