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Republicans, Enbridge celebrate Line 5 ruling

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(The Center Square) – After the Michigan Public Service Commission approved the permit for Enbridge Energy to move the Line 5 oil pipeline into an underground tunnel, Republicans welcomed the decision.

The MPSC found “there is a public need for Line 5 products and a public need for the replacement project to protect the resources of the Great Lakes.”

Enbridge’s Line 5, a 645-mile oil pipeline, runs 4.5 miles across the lakebed of the Straits of Mackinac that connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The pipeline transports light crude oil, light synthetic crude and natural gas liquids used to heat homes and businesses and fuel vehicles. Line 5 supplies 65% of propane demand in the Upper Peninsula, and 55% of Michigan’s statewide propane needs.

The permit is the first step needed to build a single 30-inch diameter pipeline within a concrete line tunnel beneath the lake bed in the Straits.

The pipeline will be built with steel .625 inches thick. Before the pipeline is placed, it will undergo testing at pressures greater than its maximum allowable operating pressure.

Enbridge said in a statement that the decision “is a major step forward” to protecting the Great Lakes and securing vital energy for Michiganders.

“We are ready to begin work on this project,” Enbridge said in a statement. “The only thing standing in the way of locating a replacement section of Line 5 into the tunnel is a decision on our permit application by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

Enbridge says it plans to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 by investing in renewables, modernizing networks, and transporting energy resources safely.

Since 2019, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel 9 has sued Enbridge seeking the shutdown of Line 5.

“Even with today’s approval, the fact remains that we are still years away from the tunnel actually being built,” Nessel said in a statement. “In the meantime, Line 5 is a ticking timebomb in the heart of the Great Lakes.”

Rep. Cam Cavitt, R-Cheboygan, welcomed the decision.

“MPSC made the right call today, but it doesn’t excuse the overzealous effort to delay and kill the Enbridge proposal,” Cavitt said in a statement. “The operation of Line 5 is essential. Enbridge is one of the largest taxpayers in Cheboygan County. Without Line 5 tax revenue, entire school districts would be forced to close.”

Experts interviewed by The Center Square say shutting down the pipeline would shift oil transportation to more costly and less efficient methods, like by rail or truck, that could lead to higher emission output relative to using the Line 5 pipeline.

The Center Square previously reported it would take 2,150 trucks crossing the Mackinac Bridge daily to replace the pipeline’s volume.

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