American Indians and allies protest Enbridge Line 5 this past Labor Weekend at Straits of Mackinac. Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert
Published November 12, 2017
LANSING – Three public feedback sessions have been scheduled in December so the public can suggest the next steps the State should take regarding Line 5, based on information in the final version of the independent Alternatives Analysis. The report is scheduled to be released publicly on November 20, and comments will be accepted online or by mail until Dec. 22.
The report by independent contractor Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. analyzed alternatives to using Line 5, owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P., to transport light crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, through the Straits of Mackinac to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.
The draft report was released in July, followed by one public information meeting, three public feedback sessions, and a 45-day period where the public could offer comments and replies to comments on the report. All comments and replies to comments were considered for inclusion into the final report.
After the State completes its review of the alternatives report, Enbridge has five business days beginning on Nov. 13 to review the report ahead of its public release a week later. Under Enbridge’s formal agreement with the state to provide funding for the Alternatives Analysis report, the company cannot ask for or have any changes made to the document.
With the report’s release Nov. 20 on the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board website, a 30-day window opens for online comments about what the State should do regarding the future of Line 5. The Dec. 22 deadline for comments includes two additional days to account for the Thanksgiving state holidays during the comment period. Comments can also be mailed to: Department of Environmental Quality, Attn: Line 5 Alternatives Analysis, P.O. Box 30473, Lansing, MI 48909-7973.
The Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE), Michigan Attorney General’s Office (AG), Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will use the Alternatives Analysis and a pending independent Risk Analysis to ensure the informational basis for any decision about the future of Line 5 is robust and complete.
The State of Michigan in August 2016 commissioned independent contractors to complete an alternatives analysis and risk analysis. The risk analysis was not completed after an apparent conflict of interest was discovered on the study team. Dr. Guy Meadows of Michigan Technological University is in discussions with the State to put together a team of academic experts from colleges and universities to perform a new risk analysis.
Built in 1953, Line 5 is 645 miles long and transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids. A 4.5-mile section runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac within an easement issued in 1953 by the State of Michigan.
Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting details
The next quarterly meeting of the state’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) is Dec. 11. The location is the Causeway Bay Lansing Hotel and Convention Center, Ballrooms F-J, 6820 S. Cedar St., Lansing.
The PSAB, created by Executive Order 2015-12, is charged with making recommendations or advising the State on pipeline issues. It also advises state agencies on matters related to pipeline routing, construction, operation, and maintenance, as well as ensuring public transparency. While the PSAB advises the state on matters concerning energy pipelines, it does not have decision-making authority and it does not control the contract administration.