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Monday, August 10, 2020

Public Notice announces public comment period for Enbridge's proposed Line 5 tunnel permit application

[Editor's Note: After attending the Aug. 6, 2020, EGLE (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) "Webinar to help public track Line 5 tunnel application permitting process," during which a comment period beginning July 31, 2020, was mentioned -- without any information on the Public Notice for this comment period on the permits Enbridge is seeking for its proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac -- Keweenaw Now contacted EGLE's Water Resources Department for assistance in locating the Public Notice. We are publishing it below, with a few changes in paragraphing. Please also see some helpful links in our notes at the end of the text.]

State of Michigan
Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
Water Resources Division
Gaylord Field Office
2100 West M-32
Gaylord, Michigan 49735-9282
Site Name: 24-Line 5 Enbridge Straits Tunnel
Submission Number: HNY-NHX4-FSR2Q
Date: July 31, 2020

PUBLIC NOTICE

Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, 11 East Superior Street, Suite 125, Duluth, Minnesota 55802, has applied to this office for a permit under authority of Part 303, Wetlands Protection, and Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPA).

The applicant proposes to construct an approximately 3.58-mile tunnel connecting McGulpin Point (Lower Peninsula) to Point LaBarbe (Upper Peninsula) within the Straits of Mackinac. The project’s purpose is to accommodate the replacement of the portion of Line 5 twin pipelines that cross the straits. The tunnel is proposed to be constructed with a tunnel boring machine using pre-cast structural lining, providing secondary containment to prevent any spill from Line 5 or utilities into the straits. Two temporary water intake structures are proposed to be installed in the lake, one on each side of the Straits with a discharge pipe at the south.

The water intakes and discharge pipe are to be removed upon completion of tunnel construction. The applicant is proposing to impact 0.13 acres of wetlands at Point LaBarbe (Upper Peninsula) including existing road (Boulevard Drive) widening, fill for access around the existing North Straits Facility to a construction and staging area to the north of the facility and the installation of two outfall structures in wetlands. In lieu of wetland mitigation, a barrier plan has been proposed to address unauthorized vehicle impacts across Point LaBarbe. 

The proposal may affect northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), Houghton’s goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii), and dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris), or their critical habitat. A Plant Mitigation Plan to address anticipated impacts to the two State Threatened plant species has been provided. Site clearing and grading is proposed to be completed during the winter months (i.e., October 30 to March 15) to minimize effects to environmental features such as nesting birds and roosting bats.

The project is located in Wawatam Township, Emmet County and Moran Township, Mackinac County, Michigan, in accordance with plans and specifications associated with this notice and available at https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/miwaters/#/external/publicnotice/search. To access the public notice page online, search for the public notice by application (submission) number, location or applicant name, and view by clicking on the "Documents" tab.*

A virtual public hearing will be announced in the near future.

THIS NOTICE IS NOT A PERMIT

The proposed project may also be regulated by one or more additional parts of the NREPA that are administered by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Water Resources Division (WRD). The requirements of all applicable parts are considered in determining if a permit can be issued. When a permit application is received requesting authorization to work in or over the inland waters of the State of Michigan, pursuant to Part 303 and Part 325 of the NREPA, the NREPA provides that EGLE submit copies for review to the department of public health; the city, village, or township and county where the project is to be located; the local soil conservation district; and any local watershed council organized under Part 311, Local River Management, of the NREPA. Additional notification is provided to certain persons as required by statute or determined by EGLE.

Those persons wanting to make comments on the proposed project shall furnish this office with their written comments no later than 50 days from the date of this notice. Written comments will be made part of the record and should reference the above application number. Objections must be factual, specific, and fully describe the reasons upon which any objection is founded.

The specific permit decision criteria can be found in the parts of the NREPA applicable to this application and listed above. Copies of these parts of the NREPA are available on the public notice Web site. Public comments received will also be considered.

The entire copy of the public notice package may be viewed online at:
https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/miwaters/#/external/publicnotice/search. To access the public notice page online, search for the public notice by application (submission) number, location or applicant name, and view by clicking on the "Documents" tab. Comments may be sent electronically by clicking on the "Add Comment" tab.**

A hard copy of the public ) notice may be requested by calling 989-370-7893.

Editor's Notes:

* Click on this link to go directly to the Public Notice description with the "Documents" and "Add Comment" links.
At present, the "Documents" include the above public notice, the permit application, and a document describing the project.

** EGLE has also established a dedicated permit application email account related to the proposed tunnel project, EGLE-Enbridge-Comments@Michigan.gov to provide the public with a simplified means of commenting on the proposed project.