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Michigan opposes cross-border oil pipeline permit

Michigan is asking the State Department to block a company from potentially pumping oil through cross-border pipelines that are nearly a century old.

The state’s attorney general and Department of Environmental Quality are asking the federal government to reject Plains All American Pipeline’s permit for the pipelines under the St. Clair River, saying that very little is known about the safety of the idled pipes.

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“The condition, integrity, and suitability of the pipelines for transporting crude oil is unknown and unverified,” Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) said in his letter on Thursday, the final day the State Department is taking comments on the permit.

“Releases of crude oil from the pipelines would endanger public health and the public trust resources of the Great Lakes and connecting waters that provide public water supplies to millions and play a central role in state and regional environment and economy,” he wrote, adding that the proposal “creates significant unnecessary risk, defies common sense, and does not serve ‘the national interest’ as required by applicable law.”

Jon Allan, director of the Great Lakes office at the state’s environmental agency, had similar feelings.

“The State continues to have significant important unanswered questions about the integrity of the current set of pipelines (and/or liners) and their operations that cross the St. Clair River, especially as Plains is seeking to establish the potential to carry crude oil in all six of these lines at some time in the indeterminate future through this presidential permit,” he wrote.

Although Plains is formally asking for permission to transport crude oil through the pipes, it says it has no immediately plans to do so.