The state of Michigan is imposing some new conditions on the operation of a controversial oil and gas pipeline. The actions include replacing a portion of Enbridge’s Line 5 that runs beneath the St. Clair River.
The new line will be in a tunnel beneath the riverbed. The state will also look at doing the same thing with the portion of the line that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.
State officials say all 575 miles of Line 5 within Michigan’s border are under review.
Valerie Brater, who directs the Michigan Agency on Energy, says these actions are separate from deliberations on the future of Line 5.
“Line 5 clearly can’t last forever,” Brater says. “This process will help us determine what should be next for Line 5 and the straits and across the span of the state, and take actions immediately to improve safety while determining how we move forward.”
The deal comes after state officials complained that Enbridge failed to share details of safety issues with the pipeline.
Guy Jarvis with Enbridge says the company will do a better job of communicating.
“The engagement element, the transparency, the communication with the state and then with the public is foundational to re-establishing our trust,” Jarvis says. “We know that trust is not going to be earned in one day.”
Enbridge and the state are still negotiating a permanent agreement on the future of Line 5.
The deadline for wrapping that up is August 15th of next year. State officials say shutting down the line remains an option.