On Tuesday, February 23rd Administrative Law Judge Dennis Mack issued a decision determining the scope of evidence than can be presented before the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) in its consideration of the case on the Line 5 segment replacement within the Great Lake Tunnel.
The judge had previously ruled on the issue in October 2020, but was asked to rule again, taking into consideration the Governor’s November order that revoked and terminated the 1953 easement and stipulated that the existing dual pipelines in the Straits must be shutdown by May of 2021.
In the new ruling, the Judge stuck with his previous decision made last October, excluding from the scope of the MPSC consideration:
- The public need for Line 5
- The operation of the current Line 5
- The safety of the current Line 5
- Any discussion of greenhouse gas (GHG) or climate change
“The Commission’s jurisdiction under Act 16 is over the proposal to relocate the existing pipelines into the Utility Tunnel, and a component of that jurisdiction is examining the environmental impacts of that conduct, consistent with the judicial and Commission construction of that term, under MEPA [Michigan Environmental Protection Act],” Mack’s ruling reads.
“The issuance of [Whitmer’s Nov. 13 notice] does not expand the MEPA inquiry to include the environmental effects of the operation and safety of Line 5, or those arising from the production, refinement, and consumption of the oil transported on Line 5,” Mack concludes.
The ruling is good news for the Tunnel project and is an important step towards getting Line 5 out of the water and safely underground in a state-of-the-art Tunnel.