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Environmental groups react to state hiring outside expert to review Line 5 tunnel project

NASA Johnson

Environmental groups are responding to news that the state will retain an outside expert to review the Line 5 tunnel project.

Last month, environmental groups and engineers raised concerns about the state’s ability to review Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel project - worrying they didn’t employ experts who could provide an adequate review of the project.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has since announced it will retain an international civil engineering firm to provide a technical review.

David Holtz is with Oil and Water Don’t Mix, an environmental group opposed to the tunnel project and continued operation of the Line 5 pipeline.

“It’s a good step,” he said. “It’s a positive step potentially but it’s still an open question whether it will have any real meaning.”

Holtz said it’s good the state is taking a review of the pipeline tunnel seriously - but it’s unclear how much the consultant’s analysis will factor into a decision on whether to greenlight the project.

“It’s great that they hired consultants, engineers, to fill the gap in their own expertise,” he said. “But that doesn’t take away from the fact that their major responsibility is still to protect the Great Lakes. Every day that pipeline is there they are not doing it.’

The firm hired by the state to review the tunnel project did not respond to our request for comment.

Separately, an Administrative law judge ruled last week that the Michigan Public Service Commission will have the authority to review the tunnel project, something Enbridge Energy, which owns the pipeline, had argued against.