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Snyder signs bill to let tunnel deal with Enbridge move forward, appoints commission

One of the anchors used to hold Line 5 in place under the Straits of Mackinac.
Screen shot of a Ballard Marine inspection video
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Enbridge Energy
One of the anchors used to hold Line 5 in place under the Straits of Mackinac.

Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill Wednesday that allows a plan to build a tunnel for a new section of pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac to go forward.

That pipeline would carry crude oil and natural gas liquids. Environmentalists are concerned because the plan would let the decades old Line 5 stay open while the new tunnel is under construction.

Katie Parrish is with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. She calls the plan a backroom deal that protects special interest oil groups.

“It’s going to keep oil pumping through the damaged Line 5 pipeline for another decade or more, while an oil tunnel is explored that can continue oil pumping under the Great Lakes for 99 more years."

In a statement, Enbridge said they are excited about the bill's successful passage.

Enbridge looks forward to working with the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority in building Michigan’s next generation of important energy infrastructure.
Enbridge believes the time is right to build for the future. Replacing the Straits segment of Line 5 in a tunnel deep under the lakebed makes a safe pipeline even safer while ensuring a reliable and affordable energy supply to Michigan and the region.

The bill also creates a three-person commission to oversee the construction and use of the tunnel. Snyder has already named his picks for the board. Opponents say the plan is too risky and they want the controversial Line 5 to be shut down immediately.

Editor's note: Enbridge Energy is a financial sponsor of Michigan Radio.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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