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National Wildlife Federation Opposes Line 5 Tunnel Permits

Group urges further review as Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy approves permits

LANSING – Today the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (ELGE) largely rubber stamped the first set of permits for Enbridge Energy’s proposed tunnel project.

This approval came after months of calls from citizens, scientists, businesses and environmental watchdogs, including the National Wildlife Federation, to require that Enbridge provide critical information that’s missing from its application, including sufficient geotechnical assessments, transparency on environmental risk and mitigation measures, as well as true assessments on cultural sites the tunnel project will impact.

The National Wildlife Federation is committed to ensuring this tunnel proposal by Enbridge meets all requirements, including conducting a full environmental impact study. The conditions required by EGLE fall short and Enbridge should have been required to provide these details before approval.  

“Enbridge is not acting in the best interest of Michiganders and our precious Great Lakes as they actively fight critical review and transparency on construction and environmental risks for this tunnel proposal,” said Beth Wallace, Great Lakes Campaigns Manager for the National Wildlife Federation.EGLE has allowed Enbridge to segment this project, avoiding critical review, and has failed to satisfy its basic public trust responsibility to protect the Great Lakes for the benefit of the people of Michigan.”

Enbridge must still obtain permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as the Michigan Public Service Commission before considering any construction for the tunnel proposal. Enbridge is actively trying to avoid environmental impact studies, as well as a review of alternatives, in these permit applications as well.  

In addition to EGLE rubber-stamping the permits, Enbridge is attempting to argue in court that Michigan has very little say over whether an oil pipeline – mainly carrying oil from Canada to Canada – should run through Michigan and the Great Lakes atop property that the state owns, making it clear that the state of Michigan can and should not continue to work with Enbridge in good faith on any major infrastructure projects.

The Great Lakes are critical for our drinking water, way of life, economy, habitat and wildlife,” said Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel made the right choice by revoking Enbridge’s easement for the Line 5 pipeline and setting us on a path to protecting the Great Lakes. Approving these permits is a step backward. Enbridge has shown that they cannot be trusted with the Great Lakes. They should not get a free pass with these permits.” 

NWF noted there has been no adequate plans from Enbridge to address the more than 600 miles of inland pipeline that cross hundreds of critical waterways. This stretch of Line 5 has already leaked at least 33 times, spilling 1.2 million gallons of product into our land and water.

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