Early last week, Governor Whitmer set a deadline of Monday June 10th for the State and Enbridge to reach a conceptual agreement on the construction of the replacement tunnel for Line 5 and the shutdown of the existing pipeline. In this short timeframe, the sides were not able come to an agreeable timeline for the project’s completion.
Barring any permitting delays, Enbridge maintains it could complete a tunnel to house Line 5 by 2024. After which, they would decommission the existing line. Gov. Whitmer, however, has held firm to seeing the pipeline out of the water in two years. The decommissioning of Line 5 without a replacement would severally impact Michigan’s homes and businesses. The energy – gasoline, diesel, home heating propane, and the thousands of petroleum products derived from these resources, need to safely and efficiently reach communities across the state.
Last Thursday, Enbridge asked the Michigan Court of Claims to review whether the agreements it previously reached on Line 5 with the Snyder administration are valid and enforceable.
As readers may recall, Enbridge and the state entered into a series of agreements in 2017 and 2018 to replace the current Line 5 with a new line, encased in a tunnel underneath the Straits. The agreements allowed for continued, safe operation of the existing pipeline until the replacement is completed.
Yet, earlier this year, Attorney General Dana Nessel declared the Public Act that created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority to oversee construction of the tunnel, unconstitutional and Gov. Whitmer halted all state departments from working on the project.
In a statement on the legal action, Guy Jarvis, Enbridge’s Executive Vice President for Liquid Pipelines, said “We are taking this action in order to protect Michigan consumers. We require a court review of the enforceability in order to remove obstacles to building the tunnel as quickly as possible and ensure energy security and environmental protection for Michigan”.
"We are fully committed to building this tunnel," Jarvis said in a conference call with reporters. "However, the state has declared the existing agreements are not valid and has offered no viable path forward, leaving us no choice but to seek a declaration from the court that the agreements are valid and enforceable."
Enbridge has said it will continue moving forward with its plan to build an underground Straits tunnel by 2024. The company has secured the permits for rock and soil sampling work, but any delays in additional permitting could push the proposed completion date beyond 2024. Stay updated as the story continues to develop by visiting michiganoilandgas.org/news.