Agreement puts Enbridge oil pipeline in tunnel, protecting Great Lakes

Posted at 11:13 AM, Nov 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-27 11:13:25-05

A new agreement between the state of Michigan and Enbridge will put the Line 5 oil pipeline in a tunnel under the St. Clair River in an effort to protect the Great Lakes and other Michigan waterways.

The pipeline is 645 miles long and begins in Superior, Wisc. before ending in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. It transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids.

Under the new agreement, Enbridge will replace the portion of Line 5 that crosses beneath the St. Clair River with a new pipe in a tunnel under the water.

“Business as usual by Enbridge is not acceptable and we are going to ensure the highest level of environmental safety standards are implemented to protect one of Michigan’s most valuable natural resources,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a release. “The items required in this agreement are good strides forward. The state is evaluating the entire span of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline and its future, but we cannot wait for the analyses to be completed before taking action to defend our waterways.”

Rep. Fred Upton, from Michigan and the chair of the Subcommittee on Energy, has been working with the state about his concerns over Enbridge.

"This issue is not going away until it gets fixed,” Upton said in a release. “Zero tolerance for error is the only thing we will accept along with the highest safety standards in place to ensure the Great Lakes will not be at risk."

The agreement also forces the state and Enbridge to undertake a study on the placement of a new pipeline, or the existing dual pipelines in a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.

It will also temporarily shut down operation of Line 5 in the straits when there are adverse weather conditions, assess the possible installation of underwater technologies, implement measures to mitigate a possible vessel anchor strike on Line 5 and more.

As part of the agreement, there is a deadline for each action, and the state will hire experts to monitor Enbridge's actions.