ELPC and MiCAN appeal judge decision that excluded climate change impacts in Line 5 permit

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FILE – In this June 8, 2017 file photo, fresh nuts, bolts and fittings are ready to be added to the east leg of the pipeline near St. Ignace as Enbridge prepares to test the east and west sides of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac in Mackinaw City, Mich. Enbridge Inc. applied Wednesday, April, 2020, for state and federal authorization to construct an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Michigan waterway that connects two of the Great Lakes. (Dale G Young/Detroit News via AP)/Detroit News via AP)

Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and the Michigan Climate Action Network (MiCAN) today filed an appeal with the Michigan Public Service Commission to allow consideration of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline tunnel during the permit application review. Michigan Administrative Law Judge Dennis Mack recently denied the groups’ request.

ELPC and MiCAN intervened in the Enbridge Line 5 tunnel case because the large quantity of oil transported in the pipeline after a new tunnel is constructed for a much longer time than would otherwise be the case and would be a meaningful contributor to global warming.

Climate scientists have shown that lawmakers must take swift action to stop the release of carbon to the atmosphere to avoid environmental and human harm.

After ELPC and MiCAN were granted intervention, Enbridge argued that the scope of the case must be limited so that the Commission cannot consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as among the environmental impacts of the project.

ELPC and MiCAN countered that the Michigan Environmental Protection Act does not limit the types of environmental impacts considered in administrative hearings about projects like Line 5, and that it certainly makes no sense to ignore climate change, which scientists say is the single greatest threat to our environment today and will continue to be so for decades to come.

As scientists have come to a better understanding of the current and potential damage of global warming, CO2 contribution from oil pipelines is being considered in a handful of permit cases around the country.

Margrethe Kearney, the lead attorney on the case for ELPC, said, “we hope the Public Service Commission makes the right decision to allow the impact on climate change as part of the consideration in Enbridge’s Line 5 permit application review. Carbon released from oil in Enbridge’s proposed tunnel project will impact our environment, and expert testimony explaining those impacts shouldn’t be excluded from the Commission’s deliberations.”

ELPC and MiCAN are intervening to make sure the MPSC has a more complete set of data regarding the need for a new tunnel and pipeline, and to ensure there is an accurate portrayal of the environmental and climate impacts of the proposed project.

The tunnel and new pipeline are intended to replace Enbridge’s damaged 67-year-old pipeline that lies on the Straits of Mackinac bottomlands. Line 5 carries 23 million gallons of oil every day and already threatens to release oil and natural gas liquids into currents that could carry oil for miles.

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