Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy issues tunnel permits

January 29, 2021

Tunnel image

The Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has completed its review and has issued permits for Enbridge’s Great Lakes Tunnel Project to relocate the portion of the Line 5 pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. This project will make a safe pipeline even safer.

The permits issued today do not resolve Governor Whitmer’s effort to shut down Line 5’s current operations. Enbridge is challenging those efforts in federal court. Such a shutdown before the completion of the Great Lakes Tunnel Project would lead to major energy shortages in the region and severe economic consequences for Michigan, neighboring states and Canada.

The EGLE permits are an important milestone for the tunnel project and are part of the process to authorize its construction. Permits from the Michigan Public Service Commission and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are still required. The environmental permits issued today are related to various parts of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

The Great Lakes Tunnel will encase a replacement section of Line 5 well below the lakebed, eliminating the risk of an anchor strike and virtually eliminating the potential of any release from Line 5 into the Straits. Survey research has shown that a majority of Michigan residents favor construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel, which is why Enbridge is investing approximately $500 million to construct the tunnel. 

EGLE approved the permits for the Great Lakes Tunnel Project following a review of Enbridge’s April 2020 application and after obtaining public input through multiple public meetings, hearings, informational sessions and webinars.