National Wildlife Federation Sues Michigan Department of Transportation Over Lack of Line 5 Tunnel Transparency

Lansing, Mich. — The National Wildlife Federation filed suit in the Michigan Court of Claims against the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) due to its denial of a Freedom of Information Act request to produce the draft Request for Proposals that Enbridge Energy was supposed to submit to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority in seeking approval for the Line 5 tunnel. The suit claims that Enbridge and MDOT are trying to evade public scrutiny through FOIA by housing the documents on a private server.

The draft RFP is required to be submitted to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority under the tunnel agreement signed during the lame duck period of former governor Rick Snyder’s administration. It contains critical details about the tunnel construction project, including project timelines. The Authority is required to review and approve the draft RFP before it can be released to potential bidders. Instead of requiring that Enbridge comply by actually submitting the draft RFP to the Corridor Authority for its review, the Corridor Authority allowed Enbridge to maintain the draft RFP on a private server, thus allowing MDOT to claim that it does not have the draft RFP to publicly disclose. 

“MDOT has fallen into a standard industry trap to evade public scrutiny. Enbridge’s lack of transparency about the risks of a tunnel will continue to cause delays. Enbridge is operating the existing Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac illegally while causing these delays, thus reaping profits while shutting out the public and threatening state and tribal protected resources,” said Beth Wallace, Great Lakes partnerships manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “During Corridor Authority meetings, Enbridge has been forced to admit to longer construction timelines than they continue to claim in their corporate spin campaigns in the media, which are meant to persuade decision makers. MDOT’s failure to make available the draft RFP further clouds the integrity of the decision-making process for the proposed Line 5 tunnel. The National Wildlife Federation had no choice but to file suit to attempt to force MDOT and Enbridge to be more transparent with the public about the risks and timeline of a potential Great Lakes tunnel.”

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