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Michigan, Enbridge Reach Deal To Boost Safety of Pipelines

Via AP Photo/Al Goldis

Enbridge Energy will replace a section of a controversial pipeline that runs beneath the Saint Clair River with a tunnel. It will also examine similar treatment for a section of Line Five that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac. 

The deal also calls for Enbridge to stop pumping oil and gas beneath the Straits of Mackinac when weather conditions would make it difficult to respond to a spill.

Relations between the company and the state have grown tense in recent months.

Valeria Brater directs the Michigan Agency on Energy. She said these actions are separate from deliberations on the future of Line Five.

“Line Five clearly can’t last forever," said Brater. "This process will help us determine what should be next for Line Five and the straits and across the span of the state, and take actions immediately to improve safety while determining how we move forward.”

Guy Jarvis is with Enbridge. He said the company will do a better job of communicating. 

“The engagement element, the transparency, the communication with the state and then with the public is foundational to re-establishing our trust," said Jarvis. "We know that trust is not going to be earned in one day.” 

Enbridge and the state are still negotiating a permanent agreement on the future of Line Five.

The deadline for wrapping that up is August 15th of 2018. 

Brater said shutting down the line remains an option.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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