MACKINAC, Mich. (WLNS) — Approximately 90% of the initial design work on a controversial tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac is complete, Enbridge reported.
The 4.5-mile-long tunnel, placed underneath the lakebed of the Straits, will house the Line 5 oil line. Enbridge explains placing the pipeline in a tunnel will reduce the chances of a spill into the lakes to near zero.
Ten years ago, the 1.2 million gallon Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, resulted in one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history.
Protesters and environmentalists in July 2019 said they fear another oil spill will occur again within the Great Lakes and opposed Enbridge’s proposal to build the pipeline.
The pipes, which are now 67 years old and operated by Enbrdige, carry more than 20 million gallons of oil underneath the Straits of Mackinaw.
Former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder made the deal with pipeline company Enbridge to build the tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.
Lawmakers approved the agreement in 2018, shortly before Snyder left office. Attorney General Dana Nessel contended in 2019 that the bill authorizing the deal was unconstitutional because its provisions went far beyond what its title specified. The courts disagreed and in June 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals said the Legislature did not violate the state constitution by approving a deal to drill an oil pipeline tunnel beneath a Great Lakes channel.
Enbridge anticipates beginning construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel in 2021. The project will employ several hundred Michigan workers during the construction.