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Final decision on Line 5 tunnel will consider climate change impacts

Lexi Krupp


Critics of the Line 5 tunnel pipeline won a major victory this week. 


A state agency, the Michigan Public Service Commission, says they will consider the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions when reviewing a plan to replace the Line 5 pipeline and build a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac. 


Some legal experts think the move could be enough to stop the project from moving forward. 



“The environmental impacts are significant enough that the commission really is going to need to look at whether there are feasible alternatives,” says attorney Margrethe Kearney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.


“Taking that close look could well convince the commission that this is not a project that should be approved.”


This is the first time any statewide agency has acknowledged that greenhouse gas emissions need to be reviewed under Michigan’s Environmental Protection Act. 


The law requires the state to determine the environmental impacts of projects like oil and gas pipelines, and evaluate whether there are feasible alternatives. 


In the coming months, experts will testify with estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the new pipeline, and the social cost of carbon pollution. Then, the commission will release their decision — likely not for another year, at the earliest.

Lexi Krupp reports on science and the environment. Previously, she worked for Gimlet Media where she helped the Science Vs team distinguish what's fact from what's not. Her work has appeared in Audubon, Popular Science, VICE, and elsewhere.