More Michigan Officials Seek Information On Straits Oil Pipeline

Apr 30, 2014

Michigan’s attorney general and its chief environmental regulator are teaming up to get more information about a 60-year-old pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac. Attorney General Bill Schuette and Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant sent a letter to Enbridge Energy Tuesday.

Wyant is an appointee of Governor Rick Snyder and Schuette is an elected Republican. They joined Democrats who’ve recently demanded more information about the pipeline.

“I think it’s genuine to ask the company how long do they think these pipelines will last and do they have a plan to replace them and how are they maintaining them,” says Joy Yearout with the attorney general's office. “It’s a conversation that needs to happen and we’re happy to do that.”

Yearout says they’re trying to be proactive and avoid an environmental catastrophe like Enbridge’s oil spill in the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

Enbridge says it will comply with the request and maintains the pipeline is operating safely. The company added more capacity to the line last year. It can pump more than a half-million barrels of oil a day.

This pipeline is seamless and the walls are an inch thick, unlike the pipeline that burst near Marshall in 2010.

Wyant says he wants to know the pipeline’s estimated lifespan, how and when it’s inspected, and how Enbridge would respond in case of a leak.

“We don’t have primacy on the inspection of this pipeline,” he says. “We recognize that it’s a federal responsibility. But we have a need to know those answers.

Wyant says because of the pipeline’s location, any failure would have “catastrophic effects.”