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Michigan Approves Enbridge Great Lakes Tunnel Project

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The Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has completed its review and has issued permits for Enbridge’s Great Lakes Tunnel Project.

Enbridge plans to relocate the portion of the Line 5 pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. This project will make a safe pipeline even safer.

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“These approvals bring us a step closer to building the Great Lakes Tunnel,” said Vern Yu, Enbridge executive vice president, and president of its liquid pipelines. “Line 5, encased in a tunnel below the lakebed, is the best way to safeguard the precious waters of the Great Lakes and ensures that low cost, safe and reliable energy keeps flowing to Michigan, neighboring states and Canada’s two largest provinces.”

The permits issued on Jan. 29 do not resolve Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s effort to shut down Line 5’s current operations. Enbridge is challenging those efforts in federal court. Such a shutdown before the completion of the Great Lakes Tunnel Project would lead to major energy shortages in the region and severe economic consequences for Michigan, neighboring states and Canada.

The EGLE permits are an important milestone for the tunnel project and are part of the process to authorize its construction. Permits from the Michigan Public Service Commission and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are still required. The environmental permits issued today are related to various parts of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

The Great Lakes Tunnel will encase a replacement section of Line 5 well below the lakebed, eliminating the risk of an anchor strike and virtually eliminating the potential of any release from Line 5 into the Straits. Survey research has shown that a majority of Michigan residents favor construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel, which is why Enbridge is investing approximately $500 million to construct the tunnel. 

EGLE approved the permits for the Great Lakes Tunnel Project following a review of Enbridge’s April 2020 application and after obtaining public input through multiple public meetings, hearings, informational sessions and webinars.

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