“We look forward to working with the state to make a safe pipeline even safer,” said spokesman Ryan Duffy. “We are investing $500 million in the construction of the tunnel, protecting the waters of the Great Lakes and all those who use it.” TRAVERSE CITY, Me. (AP) – The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the legislature does not violate the state constitution by authorizing the construction of an oil pipeline tunnel under a canal connecting two of the Great Lakes, paving the way for the project if the state does not appeal. The verdict was a victory for Enbridge, which says it plans to complete the tunnel by 2024. A coalition of environmental groups, Indian tribes and citizens` organizations plans to present a letter to the Authority on Friday criticizing the tunnel agreement. The 2013 expansion, coupled with the expected expansion of the Alberta Clipper pipeline, raised concerns from the National Wildlife Federation and other groups about the possible shipment of diluted bitumen from Alberta`s oil sands via Line 5 . Enbridge, however, has denied any plans to pump these materials. Line 5 ships nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil and petroleum products every day.  A 2011 toll agreement describes materials as “condensate, slightly synthetic, mild, slightly acidic and NGL” as well as a summary of the 2013 Mainline system.  However, for national security reasons, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration does not disclose materials that are actually transported on major U.S. pipelines, including Line 5.  Public hearings on Enbridge`s construction permit applications, necessary for the construction of the tunnel, are expected this summer. Michigan environmental authorities have asked the company to provide more information about the project and to explore alternatives to a tunnel.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, who promised to close Line 5, rejected the tunnel`s construction schedule. When Enbridge said it could not face a reduced schedule, both parties filed a complaint. Jay Dee Contractors Inc., based in Livonia, and a U.S. subsidiary of Obayashi Corp. will partner with the construction of the tunnel, as Enbridge announced Thursday. Public support for our Line 5 tunnel plan came from elected officials, political experts, business leaders and media columnists from Michigan and elsewhere. “The controversial project has drawn strong opposition from many conservationists, conservationists and several tribal authorities, as a rupture of the pipeline in such a critical area can result in the loss of endangered species.
The underwater segment is 67 years old and consists of two tubes. The company explained that the pipeline is in good condition, although the exterior cladding is worn in some areas and steel beams are placed in areas affected by erosion. The company believes that a tunnel would provide sufficient security to allow the pipeline to remain in service underwater. The Michigan Court of Claims ruled Thursday that laws allowing Enbridge to build a tunnel under Mackinac Strait for a new section of the pipeline are constitutional.