Energy & Environment

Biden administration orders environmental review of Line 5 pipeline permit

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will require a rigorous review of an underground tunnel intended to house an oil pipeline, which Michigan’s main environmental agency approved in January.

Jaime Pinkham, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said in a statement Wednesday that the Corps will conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) for Canadian company Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 project.

“USACE will ensure all potential impacts and reasonable alternatives associated with this project are thoroughly analyzed and will ultimately support a decision on the permit application,” Pinkham said in a statement. “The USACE received thousands of public comments and tribal input on the proposed project, which warrant further review through an EIS, including potential impacts to navigation.”

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) reached an agreement with Enbridge to run a new pipe through a tunnel connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was a vocal opponent of the project and last fall ordered it shut down by May 2021. However, in January the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy signed off on the project.

In a statement Wednesday, an Enbridge spokesperson said that “the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to complete an environmental impact statement instead of an environmental assessment (EA) for the Great Lakes Tunnel project will lead to a delay in the start of construction on this important project.”

“Enbridge will continue to work with the USACE on its review of our application and towards a successful conclusion to this process which began when we filed our permit application in April 2020,” the spokesperson added.

In a statement of its own, the National Wildlife Federation, which has called Line 5 a “ticking time bomb in our Great Lakes,” credited local advocacy for the Corps’ decision.

“From the beginning, Enbridge has fought review of environmental impact, a review of need, a review of impacts to tribal cultural resources and sites and a technical review of the construction and design. It continues to operate the current Line 5 pipeline illegally,” Beth Wallace, Great Lakes Campaigns Manager for the NWF, said in a statement. “We must ensure the Great Lakes and our communities are protected and requiring a comprehensive review of this project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a required step in holding Enbridge accountable for the proposal’s impact on to our water, land and climate.”

Tags Enbridge Line 5 Environmental impact statement Great Lakes Gretchen Whitmer Michigan Natural environment Oil pipelines

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