Army Corps Extends Line 5 Tunnel Review, Delaying Enbridge’s Pipeline Project by 18 Months

(Reuters) — Canada's Enbridge Inc. said on Thursday it was "disappointed" by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to extend the federal permitting process for the company's proposed Great Lakes Tunnel that would rehouse its Line 5 oil pipeline underneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Calgary-based Enbridge said the move will delay its plan to replace a section of the existing Line 5 pipeline, which runs underwater for four miles (6.4 km) between Lakes Michigan and Huron and push back the start of construction until 2026.

"While we are supportive of a thorough, comprehensive and carefully considered permitting process that ensures adequate opportunity for review and comment, we are disappointed with the extended timeline for a project of this scope," Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy said in a statement.

Enbridge submitted an application to build the $750 million tunnel in 2020 to address concerns Line 5 could leak into the Great Lakes. The 70-year-old pipeline carries 540,000 barrels per day from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, and is at the center of a long-running legal dispute between Enbridge and the State of Michigan, which says it should be shut down.

The Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for evaluating Enbridge's permit application and received more than 17,000 public comments during a scoping period that ended in October 2022, the USACE said in a statement.

The regulator had originally planned to publish a draft environmental impact statement on the Line 5 tunnel project in late 2023, but has pushed that back to spring 2025.

"We greatly appreciate the meaningful input received throughout scoping and will use this information to shape studies and continuing consultations throughout development of our draft environmental impact statement," said Detroit District Commander Lieutenant Colonel Brett Boyle in a statement.

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