Michigan, Enbridge Strike Interim Deal On Line 5

Nov 28, 2017

Protesters call for the shutdown of Line Five - file photo
Credit Michigan Public Radio Network

(MPRN-Lansing) Enbridge Energy will replace a section of a controversial pipeline that runs beneath the Saint Clair River with a tunnel. It will also examine similar treatment for a section of Line Five that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac. 

It’s part of an interim deal between the state and the energy company. The deal also calls for Enbridge to stop pumping oil and gas beneath the Straits of Mackinac when weather conditions would make it difficult to respond to a spill.

Relations between the company and the state have grown tense in recent months. Valerie Brater directs the Michigan Agency for Energy. She is one of the state officials who’s blasted Enbridge for failing to share details on potential safety issues with Line Five.

“Business as usual is no longer acceptable.”

Enbridge and the state are still negotiating a permanent agreement on the future of Line Five. The deadline for wrapping that up is August 15th of 2018. Brater says shutting down the line remains an option.

Environmental groups are criticizing the Enbridge agreement. Mike Shriberg is with the National Wildlife Federation. He wasn't informed about the negotiations with Enbridge, even though he's on the pipeline safety advisory board. 

Shriberg says the deal appears to favor the idea of building a tunnel to protect the pipeline in the straits of Mackinac.

“what we actually need to be doing is how we should strategically decommission line 5”

Schriberg says the deal implies the Canadian-owned pipeline is crucial to Michigan's economy, but it mainly benefits Canada.