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Panel Grants Go-Ahead To Line 5 Replacement In Great Lakes Area

A panel set up to evaluate the environmental risks of replacing a section of Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline in Michigan has given the project the green light, AP reports, just a week after the panel was set up.

Last week, the Michigan Legislature approved the Great Lakes pipeline project that envisages the replacement of a section of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, which is 65 years old, and agreed to set up a state authority to oversee the construction of a tunnel for a section of the new pipeline.

The new pipeline will replace two old ones and be set in a tunnel, to be drilled at a depth of 100 feet under the four-mile Straits of Macinac linking Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. As part of the deal, Enbridge will pay between US$350 and US$500 million for the construction of the tunnel for the pipeline. The project could take between seven and 10 years to complete.

"Today's actions will result in the removal of the oil pipeline from the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, maintain critical infrastructure connections between our peninsulas, provide energy security for residents of the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan and create good-paying jobs," said Michigan Governor Rock Snyder, who has been in a rush to get all necessary approvals for the project before he leaves office next year.

Like other pipeline projects, the Line 5 replacement project faces opposition from environmentalists and native American communities from the region. Though all legal hurdles have been cleared, opposition remains. The latest came in the form of a report from a joint U.S.-Canadian advisory organization, the Science Advisory Board, suggested the Straits of Macinac is among more than a dozen locations in the region of the Great Lakes that are vulnerable to oil spills.

Snyder’s replacement, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, is one of the opponents of the tunnel project, and the new attorney General of the state is also against it. In fact, Whitmer has called for the decommissioning of the whole Line 5 pipeline, which carries crude oil and natural gas from Ontario to Wisconsin 

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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