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State launches public "feedback sessions" on future of Enbridge's Line 5

Dec 7, 2017

The state is getting public feedback on the future of Enbridge’s Line 5.

State environmental officials held the first of three public meetings on the subject in the Detroit suburb of Taylor Wednesday night.

The state released an alternatives analysis for the pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac earlier this year. It’s also commissioning a risk analysis.

Matt Goddard, energy liaison for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, says all options are still truly on the table.

“One option that they’re doing the feasibility study on is tunneling, but de-commissioning the line is still on the table. So all the options in the alternatives analysis are still being analyzed by the state, and that’s why we need this public input,” Goddard said.

Tunneling around the pipeline is an option Enbridge is required to explore under a new, surprise deal Gov. Snyder struck with the Canadian energy company late last month, after revelations of numerous safety violations over the past few months.

That interim deal also includes new safeguards, such as requiring Enbridge to shut down Line 5 in certain adverse weather conditions. The company briefly shut the pipeline down in the face of 8-foot waves earlier this week.

But some critics feel that agreement narrows the options toward keeping Line 5 open, and subverts the larger alternatives analysis.

Sean McBrearty, leader of the group Oil and Water Don’t Mix, calls it a “backroom deal” that cuts pipeline watchdogs out of the process.

“At this point in the process, we don’t think we need to see an alternatives analysis or a risk analysis,” McBrearty said. “We need to move forward and de-commission Line 5 right now.”

The state has scheduled two more “feedback sessions” on Line 5 for next week in St. Ignace and Traverse City. People can submit comments on the alternatives analysis report to www.mipetroleumpipelines.com until December 22.

In full disclosure, Enbridge Energy is a financial supporter of Michigan Radio.