Michigan Regulators Request More Information on Enbridge’s Line 5 Pipeline Tunnel Project

(Reuters) — State of Michigan regulators on Thursday ordered Canada's Enbridge Inc. to file additional information on safety and engineering for its proposed Line 5 oil pipeline tunnel, describing Enbridge's current application as "deficient."

Enbridge is planning to build a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes to rehouse its existing 540,000 barrel per day Line 5 pipeline.

"The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today ordered the record reopened in Enbridge Energy LP's application ... finding that the record is deficient on critical matters of engineering and safety, and additional evidence is needed for the Commission to complete its analysis," regulators said in a statement.

The decision is a setback for Enbridge, which has proposed building the $750-million tunnel to address concerns that Line 5 could spill into the Great Lakes.

A four-mile (6.4-km) section of the aging pipeline runs underwater through the Straits of Mackinac and environmentalists are worried about the risk of an oil leak.

Last year Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered Calgary-based Enbridge to shut down Line 5, which ships crude and refined products from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, via Michigan.

Enbridge ignored that order and the two sides are embroiled in a legal battle over the pipeline's fate.

In a statement Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy said the company believes "extensive information documenting the engineering and safety of the Great Lakes Tunnel is already included" in the MPSC record.

"We remain committed to the MPSC process and seeing that the Great Lakes Tunnel is built," Duffy added.

The Environmental Law and Policy Centre advocacy group said the tunnel was an unnecessary investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure.

"The Commission's request for additional information makes clear that Enbridge has failed to demonstrate that the tunnel could safely be constructed or operated," said senior attorney Margrethe Kearney.

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