The State of Michigan today released for public review and comment proposed agreements related to a planned multi-use utility tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac and the remaining life of Line 5 in the Straits. The documents are posted to the mipetroleumpipelines.com website. Public comment will be accepted through Dec. 18 and supplied to Gov. Rick Snyder, state departments and the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) for consideration.
One proposed agreement, titled the Third Agreement, is between the governor, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Natural Resources and Enbridge. The agreement would supplement two previous agreements between the state and Enbridge – the first in November 2017 and the second in October 2018.
This draft Third Agreement would carry forward the safety requirements of the first two agreements and require Enbridge to construct a tunnel beneath the Straits that will provide secondary containment for a replacement Straits pipeline and be capable of housing multiple utilities. It also includes interpretations of the current 1953 easement for the dual pipelines and ongoing financial assurance requirements.
Under the proposed Third Agreement, Enbridge would cover all costs for design, construction, operation and maintenance of the multi-use tunnel. The agreement would also establish more stringent inspection and safety requirements in successive years for the existing dual Line 5 pipelines on the bottom of the Straits as the tunnel and replacement line are constructed.
The second document is a proposed Tunnel Agreement submitted by the Governor today to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority – a new board created under PA 359 of 2018 that will oversee construction and operation of the Straits tunnel. Under the proposed Tunnel Agreement, Enbridge would be required to design, construct, operate and maintain the tunnel and turn over ownership of the tunnel to the MSCA once it is complete, provided certain conditions are met.
The proposed Tunnel Agreement contains measurable milestones and definitive timelines for tunnel progress as well as significant financial penalties for missed deadlines, provided delays are within the company’s control. The new law requires the MSCA to enter into this agreement by the end of the year providing the Agreement meets the requirements of PA 359.
A proposed easement between the MSCA and Enbridge, allowing for construction of the tunnel in the bedrock beneath the Straits of Mackinac, also is included for public comment.
Comments regarding the draft documents can be left by phone at 833-367-6713 or by email to DNR-StraitsTunnelComment@michigan.gov.
More information regarding Line 5 and pipelines in Michigan can be found at mipetroleumpipelines.com.