Since 2018, Enbridge has been awarded 73 screw anchor permits from the state for Line 5 in the Straits and of those, 53 have already been installed.
in 2019, environmental groups challenged the state's issuance of these anchor permits, based on their belief that the state should have required comprehensive environmental evaluations before approving them.
According to the Detroit News, on Friday Feb. 7th, 2020, Administrative Law Judge Daniel Pulter dismissed most of the challenges to the placement of screw anchors along the dual oil pipelines, but found there was legal grounding to examine whether the state adequately assessed the risks those supports pose to the bottom lands.
The challenge to the supports should not be limited to “the environmental effects of screwing two bolts per screw anchor into the lake bed, as initially asserted by EGLE at oral argument," the judge wrote. “Rather the petitioners may bring any claim related to ‘existing and potential…adverse effects to the environment, public trust and riparian rights of adjacent owners’ that is causally related to the 73 screw anchors.”
Judge Pulter has scheduled a Feb. 28 pre-hearing conference in the case.
Enbridge expects the judge will dismiss the rest of the case once he hears evidence showing Enbridge's proposed installation method "minimizes any potential harm to the environment," said Ryan Duffy, a spokesman for the company.
"Nothing in the opinion affects Enbridge’s ongoing operation of Line 5, or the 53 anchors that were already installed in 2019," Duffy said. "The anchor installations make the dual pipelines safer. That is why EGLE approved the permits in the first place and has defended its decision to approve the permits."