In comments submitted to state officials Friday, FLOW is urging state regulators to deny a bid by Enbridge Energy to install 48 new anchor supports on dangerous Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac while evading scrutiny of alternatives that would protect the environment.
Enbridge’s latest request, if approved, would bring the number of anchor brackets to 198 that the governments have allowed the company to install since the early 2000s — completely changing the pipelines’ design.
Structurally, this means that approximately 3 miles of pipeline are elevated in public trust waters above the bottomlands. But the design approved by the state in the 1950s had the pipeline resting in a trench on the lake bottom.
“The fact that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continue to approve Enbridge’s anchor supports on the lakebed of the Lake Michigan as ‘repair’ and ‘maintenance’ is simply untenable,” FLOW says in its comments. “The highly increased risks of and alternatives to a completely modified design under both state and federal permitting laws requires a new agreement of occupancy and permits” under several laws.
“And given the recent anchor dents in the twin lines and rupture of the electrical line and release of toxic fluids, the risks to the Great Lakes are totally unacceptable,” FLOW said.
FLOW called on the state and federal governments to require that Enbridge:
- file a full and comprehensive application including a study of potential effects and feasible and prudent alternatives to Line 5 in the Straits in its entirety;
- suspend the flow of oil in Line 5 unless and until Enbridge files such application and evidence and obtains proper occupancy agreements, permits, or other approvals for this new or completely modified pipeline design; and
- consolidate into one application and examine the risks, impacts, and alternative analyses of the entire 645 miles of Line 5.