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AG Nessel Calls on MPSC to Reject Enbridge's Attempt to Bypass Review Process for Building New Pipelines

LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel recently urged the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to reject an attempt by Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership to bypass the normal legal process for reviewing proposals to locate and construct new oil pipelines in Michigan.

Enbridge submitted an application on April 17 to the MPSC under the law that governs oil pipeline siting (1929 Public Act 16) to approve the construction of a new pipeline in a proposed tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac to replace part of its Line 5.  But at the same time, Enbridge alternatively asked the MPSC to issue a declaratory ruling that it didn’t actually need to approve the new pipeline, claiming that it was already covered by a 1953 MPSC order that allowed construction of the original Line 5. On April 22, the MPSC issued an order putting Enbridge’s application on hold and inviting public comment on the request for the declaratory ruling.

“Enbridge’s proposed new pipeline must be thoroughly and publicly vetted through the processes required by Michigan law, including full review by the MPSC,” said Nessel. “There is too much at stake to allow anything else.”

Nessel filed comments opposing Enbridge’s request on Wednesday, and explained that it should be denied for several reasons: 

  • Enbridge’s project is not, as it claims, simply “maintenance” of the pipelines approved in 1953; it proposes to locate and build a new and different pipeline. 
  • Act 16 and MPSC’s rules plainly require an application to locate and construct a new oil pipeline. 
  • Enbridge’s claim that a new approval is “never” required for this type of project is false; Enbridge itself has previously applied for approval to replace sections of other pipelines in Michigan. 
  • The MPSC has a duty to consider the potential environmental impacts of the project that cannot be bypassed through Enbridge’s requested declaratory ruling.