December 22, 2023
Today, the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and the Michigan Climate Action Network (MiCAN) appealed the Michigan Public Service Commission’s December 1, 2023, decision to approve the Line 5 tunnel/pipeline project Enbridge seeks to construct under the Straits of Mackinac. The case now goes to the Michigan Court of Appeals, the state’s intermediate appellate court.
“One of the Commission’s primary responsibilities under Michigan law is to evaluate whether there are feasible and prudent alternatives to projects like this that will pose fewer environmental risks and cost less money,” said Scott Strand, Senior Attorney at ELPC. “But the Commission simply refused to consider the best alternative out there, which is simply to shut down the old Line 5 pipelines under the Straits and not replace them with a new pipeline at all. The shippers and refineries who currently use Line 5 have lots of options, but the Commission was just not interested in anything but a new way to run crude oil under one of the most environmentally vulnerable natural assets we have in this region.”
“The reality is that we are moving away from fossil fuels. We have to, if we are to have any chance of avoiding a climate disaster,” said Denise Keele, executive director of the Michigan Climate Action Network. “The last thing we need to be doing is building new fossil fuel infrastructure like a new pipeline under the Straits and locking in more reliance on oil. The Commission unfortunately was unwilling to come to grips with this reality.”
Enbridge’s proposed Line 5 tunnel/pipeline project faces many additional hurdles. It cannot go forward without permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and those will not happen before 2026, if they are granted at all. In Wisconsin, Line 5 is under a shutdown order from a federal judge in Madison because the line trespasses on the Bad River Band’s reservation, and any possible reroute is also many years away. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel are also continuing their efforts to get the Line 5 Straits crossing shut down.