Dominion Bay man hopeful that Enbridge Line 5 project will be delayed indefinitely

Mike Wilton

State says Line 5 tunnel permit application incomplete

DOMINION BAY – A local resident, and member of the Algonquin Eco-Watch welcomes news that the Enbridge Line 5 tunnel permit has been delayed. 

“I think it is good news; maybe this will tie things up for awhile and they (Enbridge) will not be able to go ahead with the line,” Mike Wilton, a Dominion Bay resident, told the Recorder late last week.

“If it gets tied up in the courts, then maybe eventually the courts will throw the application out,” said Mr. Wilton. He and others are concerned that if the line were to ever break it would negatively impact water, including water in Lake Huron. 

Bridge, a Michigan publication, reported on May 6 that before Enbridge can seek a permit to build the Line 5 tunnel to transport oil and natural gas beneath the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan regulators say the company needs to spend more time considering alternatives.

That’s one of several conclusions state officials reached when they reviewed Enbridge’s application for a permit from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to build the controversial tunnel between Michigan’s two peninsulas, reported Bridge in a release.

In a May 4 letter to the Canadian petroleum conglomerate, a state district supervisor gave Enbridge 30 days to update its application with more information.

Regulators said Enbridge’s application was unnecessarily long, at more than 350 pages, but omitted key information state officials need to help decide whether to grant the permit.

“EGLE requests that Enbridge edit submitted materials for precision and relevance to actual proposed construction,” wrote Joseph Haas, a supervisor in EGLE’s Gaylord district office. In addition to submitting “a complete assessment of the alternatives” to the tunnel project, the letter stated Enbridge must outline plans to mitigate damage the tunnel project could cause to wetlands and federally-protected plants, offer details about ongoing lawsuits that could affect the tunnel’s fate, and add other missing pieces to the application, Bridge reported.

The holdup is the latest twist in a long battle over the fate of the 67-year-old pipeline, which transports 540,000 barrels daily of crude oil and natural gas liquids between Wisconsin and Ontario. Opponents have long called for its shutdown, arguing the pipeline poses a catastrophic hazard to the Great Lakes and inland waterways.

The company plans to replace the four-mile section that sits exposed at the bottom of the straits with a new line encapsulated in a concrete-lined tunnel deep beneath the lakebed.

Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy told Bridge the company plans to provide the information EGLE requested, “and move forward with this process.” Pending permit approvals, Mr. Duffy said Enbridge officials still expect to begin construction on the $500 million tunnel project next year and bring the new segment on-line in 2024.