We all know how important the well-being of the Great Lakes are to Michiganders. Currently, there is a potential threat of an oil spill that could destroy hundreds of miles of shorelines and damage lakes due to 65 year old twin crude oil pipes that are located at the bottom of the straits of Mackinac. The owner of these crude oil pipes is the Canadian pipeline giant; Enbridge. In the past, Enbridge has remained confident that there haven’t been any issues with the current pipelines, but have since doubted themselves after discovering the protective coatings have worn off and with the recent damages from a ship anchor.
In October 2018, Enbridge and the State of Michigan announced an engineering project plan that would retire the pipes and install a new line that would cost the company $350 million to $500 million. The plan would also include the bridge authority assisting Enbridge with obtaining permits and have complete ownership until the new line is completed. The bridge authority will also be leasing the pipeline to Enbridge to ensure any agreements, provisions, inspections and precautions are in place if there are any issues with the pipeline replacement.
An area of the agreement that remains open is if the twin pipelines would eventually be taken down in their entirety after the new lines are installed. Environmental groups have been criticizing the agreement and believe the process is taking too long since further negotiations are needed and would like the oil transit through the straits to be shut down indefinitely. Since the announced plan was under former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration, we will have to anxiously await Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s plan of action. Stay tuned for updates on this important issue.