Gov. Snyder, Lt. Gov. Calley initiate acceleration of Straits of Mackinac studies and legal action against shipping company involved in recent pipeline damage

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder today called on Enbridge to accelerate the identification of anchor strike mitigation measures and the evaluation of alternatives to replace pipelines that are required under the Governor’s November agreement with Enbridge. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, acting as Governor due to Snyder being out of state, also asked the Attorney General to initiate legal actions against the owners of the ship and other parties who may be responsible for recently damaging pipelines in the Straits.

Late last night, the state was informed by Enbridge that three small dents exist in Line 5, likely due to the same vessel activity that may have caused the damage to another line that released mineral oil into the water. While Enbridge reported that the dents are very small and pose no threat to the pipeline, the state is demanding that its own experts verify this information. Gov. Snyder said this incident solidifies the need for completion of the alternatives studies that he demanded as part of the Enbridge agreement last November.

“An anchor strike was the largest risk identified in a previous independent analysis of the Enbridge pipeline, which is apparently what happened in the Straits last week. We need to accelerate these studies so they are completed as soon as feasibly and responsibly possible,” Snyder said. “We need the right answers, but we need them as soon as we can get them so that we can take action faster to protect the Great Lakes.”

Assuming studies show a tunnel is physically possible and construction would not cause significant environmental damage, the Governor will move to require Enbridge to construct the tunnel and decommission the existing Line 5 that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

Earlier this year, Gov. Snyder had the state enter into an agreement with Enbridge that required the studies be on a fast track, with completion expected in June. Infrastructure under the Straits of Mackinac supplies petroleum, natural gas, electricity and telephone communications between the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.

The studies are looking at anchor strike mitigation measures and the potential for tunneling, which would eliminate anchor risks. The state also asked Enbridge today to engage with other companies with infrastructure in the Straits to enlist their assistance with the studies and the potential solutions.

Lt. Gov. Calley today asked the Attorney General to initiate legal action on behalf of the State of Michigan against the ship’s owners and operators or other potential responsible parties.

“There is no excuse for the ship’s actions, which risked devastating environmental harm as well as the loss of vital infrastructure for communications, electrical power, and heat for residents of the Upper Peninsula,” Calley said. “I have asked the Attorney General to begin legal action against the ship’s owners immediately to ensure every member of the maritime community understands the no-anchor zone is vital.”

Gov. Snyder also said the state will be doing an expedited review of other actions that can be taken to protect the straits. In addition, he would be reaching out to Michigan’s congressional delegation to assist with expediting the federal permitting process to allow for protective measures to be installed in the Straits of Mackinac.

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