Snyder Tunnel Deal Only Prolongs Existing Line 5 Threat to the Great Lakes

Dec. 19, 2018 (ANN ARBOR, MI) — The National Wildlife Federation criticized the proposed agreement between Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) and Enbridge to potentially build a tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac for Enbridge’s Line 5 oil and natural gas pipeline for its failure to protect the Great Lakes from the threat of an oil spill. The new Michigan Straits Corridor Authority –just created through lame duck legislation — meets today in St. Ignace after only a five-day public comment period on the agreement documents.

“This backroom deal sets no end date for the twin pipelines currently sitting in the open waters of the Great Lakes. The Snyder administration is trying to disguise the status quo as progress,” Beth Wallace, conservation partnerships manager for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, said. “This five-day comment period further illustrates the Snyder administration’s disregard for public input. They have ignored hundreds of thousands of public comments calling for a shutdown of Line 5 and millions of mid-term votes for an incoming administration which pledged to protect our Great Lakes, not a foreign oil company’s profit margin.”

The National Wildlife Federation noted the following ways the agreement fails to protect the Great Lakes:

• The agreement ignores safer and cost-effective alternatives for Michigan’s energy needs.

• The agreement allows the existing outdated Line 5 pipelines to operate indefinitely while the tunnel process is underway.

• The agreement excuses performance of the conditions of the contract by Enbridge (building the tunnel) on numerous potential delay events, during which the existing Line 5 continues operating.

• The agreement does not guarantee that the tunnel ever actually gets completed, meaning it does not guarantee the existing Line 5 pipelines are ever decommissioned.

• The existing threat posed by the existing aging Line 5 pipelines only gets worse as the existing pipeline ages and the process of permitting, legal challenges, engineering, and — maybe — construction is underway.