State House Expected to Act on Line 5 Tunnel Plan This Week

December 10, 2018

Good news! Legislation to help facilitate an agreement between the state and Enbridge, Inc., to replace Line 5 with a new, state-of-the-art utility tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, is now before the State House where action is expected this week.

Senate Bill 1197 would create a new, independent Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) to oversee the tunnel, which would be drilled 100 feet beneath the lake bed, instead of the existing Mackinac Bridge Authority. The new utility tunnel would house a new oil and gas pipeline for Enbridge. The MSCA would also provide oversight of Enbridge’s operations along with state and federal officials. Enbridge would be responsible for the cost of the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the tunnel. 

Per the legislation, the MSCA would enter into an agreement with Enbridge before the end of the year, if certain conditions are met. Those conditions include: limiting liability for members of the MSCA; prohibiting the use of eminent domain; the proposed tunnel must be able to accommodate other utilities; it must be built to last; and finally, it must be built to contain an oil spill. Once the tunnel project is complete, Enbridge will decommission the twin pipelines on the bottom of the Straits, which is required in an agreement already signed with the State of Michigan.  

Despite all the controversy, the pending legislation appears to be the best possible outcome for Michigan because it results in a brand-new utility tunnel that allows critical oil and gas resources to make their way to Michigan citizens and businesses in the upper and lower peninsulas without any risk to the Straits. 

For more information, contact Jason Geer, Director of Energy & Environmental Policy for the Michigan Chamber, at jgeer@michamber.com.