Ryan Mitchell, the Michigan Department of Transportation representative for the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, said the National Environmental Policy Act review process by the Environmental Protection Agency to create an environmental impact statement had just started in August and would not have a final report for quite some time.
“I don’t have an accurate or reliable timeline, but it is generally considered to be a two-year process,” Mitchell said.
The environmental impact study isn’t expected to be complete until 2024, according to Army Corps of Engineers documents.
“To date, Enbridge has invested more than $100 million on the project. Enbridge remains intensely focused on obtaining the required permits to construct the project,” said Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy.
Enbridge has a request for contractors to price boring the tunnel and whichever company would have to abide by the construction contract made with the authority.
“Enbridge will continue to advance the project, which Enbridge will pay for, and which more than 70% of Michiganders support. Once we receive all permits, we are committed to starting construction within the timeframe stated in the Tunnel Agreement with the State of Michigan,” Duffy said.
Enbridge is also waiting on the Michigan Public Service Commission to issue permits which would allow them to move the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac into the tunnel once complete.
However, the MPSC has reopened a safety hearing to get more evidence regarding the tunnel.
The corridor authority approved setting up a way it could determine what position it would take during the judicial hearing, but the board wasn’t sure what Enbridge was filing. Duffy said Enbridge would be sending the reports later this month.
“We have a responsibility, as authority members, to at least get the information from our experts at all levels and then we, as an authority, then decide whether or not a representative moves forward with that position,” MSCA Chair Michael Nystrom said.
The MSCA said it would need a way to meet in January to go over the filings and determine the “litigation positions in that administrative adjudicative context.”
The public comment for the MPSC on Line 5 will end Jan. 20, 2023, and rebuttals have until March 3. The actual hearing isn’t expected to take place until April 4 through April 7.