After violating its easement agreement with the state for at least the second time, Enbridge Energy Partners wants a new permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to install Line 5 pipeline anchors in the Straits of Mackinac.
Join us in asking the MDEQ as part of its permit conditions to do a comprehensive review of Enbridge's pipelines and investigate all violations of the easement agreement by Enbridge.
To the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:
We, the undersigned residents of Michigan, are writing in reference to the request by Enbridge Energy Partners for a permit to install anchors on Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac under joint application 2HB-VGKO-35JE with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (“MDEQ”) and United States Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”).
We urgently request that as part of this permit application process the MDEQ undertake a formal comprehensive review of impacts and alternatives associated with Enbridge’s entire Line 5 pipeline in the Straits and waters and bottomlands of the Great Lakes. This is the second time in two years that Enbridge has violated the 1953 Easement provision requiring a 75-foot maximum unsupported span. Contrary to Enbridge’s assertions, these additional anchors are not mere “preventative maintenance.” Rather, these stabilizing anchors along the bottomlands of the Great Lakes are part of Enbridge’s overall expansion plan that has enabled this private corporation to expand crude oil transport by 80 percent and increase pressure by 10 percent along the entire 645 miles of Line 5. Accordingly, the MDEQ and the Corps must review potential impacts and alternatives as is required under state (Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act (“GLSLA”), Michigan Environmental Protection Act (“MEPA”), public trust law) and federal (Clean Water Act, Rivers and Harbors Act, National Environmental Protection Act (“NEPA”)) laws.
In addition, because Enbridge is currently in violation of at least 4 known anchor supports, we request the State of Michigan to conduct a formal comprehensive assessment of all violations by Enbridge of its 1953 easement agreement with the state allowing this Canadian transport company to operate risky, dangerous oil pipelines in the turbulent Straits of Mackinac.
In November 2014, Enbridge claimed in a letter to the State of Michigan that it was in compliance with the easement agreement’s requirement that no section of the Straits pipelines greater than 75 feet were unsupported by anchors. In its request to install additional anchors under the proposed permit, Enbridge has admitted this is untrue and that it is in violation of its easement agreement with the state.
Moreover, since April 2016 the MDEQ has been made aware of at least seven additional violations of the easement agreement by Enbridge, including:
- Concealing information about cracks, dents, and rust with continued, sweeping assertions and misrepresentations that the Straits pipelines are in “excellent condition, almost as new as when they were built and installed” and have “no observed corrosion.” Of the nine rust spots on the eastern Straits pipeline, corrosion has eaten away 26 percent of the pipeline’s wall thickness in a 7-inch-long area, according to newly released company data.
- Failing to meet the pipeline wall thickness requirement due to manufacturing defects. Newly released Enbridge data reveals that manufacturing defects in the 1950s resulted in pipeline wall thickness of less than half an inch in perhaps hundreds of sections and up to 41% less thick than mandated on the west Straits pipeline. Enbridge continues to boast about its “nearly one-inch-thick walls of Line 5’s steel pipe traveling under the Straits.”
- Failing to meet the “reasonably prudent person” provision by claiming that its steel pipelines lying underwater just west of the Mackinac Bridge since 1953 can last forever and do not require a plan for eventual decommissioning. The 63-year-old pipelines were built to last 50 years.
- Failing to demonstrate adequate liability insurance, maintain required coating and wood-slat covering to prevent rust and abrasion, adequately support the pipeline resulting in stressed and deformed segments, and adhere to federal emergency spill response and state environmental protection laws, including Act 10 of P.A. 1953, the GLSLA, the MEPA, and public trust law.
Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac carries up to 23 million gallons of oil a day, posing an unacceptable risk to the Great Lakes, our northern Michigan tourist economy, and a safe drinking water source for 30 million people. The State of Michigan has a duty under public trust law, the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act and the Michigan Environmental Protection Act to ensure the protection of the Great Lakes, including, in this case, compliance by Enbridge with all conditions of its easement agreement for operating Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.
We believe it is a critically important that the MDEQ and other state agencies, as a condition of this requested permit, require Enbridge to cooperate in a thorough investigation by the State of Michigan into the condition of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac and the status of Enbridge’s compliance with the 1953 easement agreement.
We also request that the MDEQ undertake a formal public hearing on Enbridge’s permit request as provided in Section 32514 of the GLSLA and R 322.1017 (Rule 17), along with proper notice and additional time for public comment.