Tech & Science

Enbridge ‘disappointed’ as environmental review for Line 5 tunnel extended

Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. has suffered another setback on its Line 5 replacement project in Michigan.

The company said Thursday it was “disappointed” by the news that the US federal review timeline for Enbridge’s proposed $500 million Great Lakes Tunnel project had been delayed by more than a year.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) said Thursday that it plans to complete a draft environmental impact statement for Enbridge’s Route 5 tunnel permit application in the spring of 2025, rather than later in 2023 as previously indicated. .

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Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy said in an emailed statement that USACE’s decision to extend the permitting process will further delay the replacement of Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac dual pipeline and prevent construction from starting. It said it would be delayed until at least 2026.

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“While we support a thorough, comprehensive and carefully considered permitting process that ensures ample opportunity for review and comment, we are disappointed that the timeline for this scoped project has been extended.” said Duffy.

He added that Enbridge first submitted an application for the Great Lakes Tunnel project in April 2020.

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“As such, USACE estimates that it will take six years to review and decide on the project,” Duffy said.

Enbridge’s Great Lakes Tunnel project is intended to house a replacement segment of the existing Line 5 oil pipeline that crosses the bottom of the Strait connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

The company said the tunnel would be drilled through rock 100 feet below the lake bed to “virtually eliminate” the possibility of a pipeline spill affecting the Great Lakes.

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It also said the project will be only 6.4 km long, will not require construction within the waters of the Channel, and is expected to affect less than a quarter of an acre of wetlands.

However, USACE has amended the duration of the environmental review after receiving over 17,000 public comments during the initial ‘scoping period’.

“We are very appreciative of the meaningful information we have received through scoping and will use this information for research and ongoing consultation through the drafting of our Environmental Impact Statement.” USACE District of Detroit Commander Lieutenant Colonel Brett Boyle said in a news release:

The development is yet another blow to Enbridge’s beleaguered Line 5 pipeline in Michigan. This pipeline, which transports up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil, synthetic crude oil and natural gas liquids to be refined into propane, was built in 1953 and supplies 55% of the state’s propane needs. increase.

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In recent years, however, it has become a flashpoint for environmentalists and opponents of the US fossil fuel sector.

Michigan itself had been in court for years with Enbridge to shut down Line 5, fearing disaster in the Strait of Mackinac, the ecologically sensitive region where the pipeline crosses the Great Lakes.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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