Michigan officials approved a $500 million plan Friday to encase in a protective tunnel a portion of an aging oil pipeline that runs beneath a channel connecting two Great Lakes, leaving just one more regulatory hurdle for the contentious project.
The state’s three-person Public Service Commission approved the project in the Straits of Mackinac on a 2-0 vote. Commissioner Alessandra Carreon abstained, noting she just joined the commission four months ago.
The plan still needs approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is still compiling an environmental impact statement. A final decision may not come until 2026.
Enbridge Energy has been operating the Line 5 pipeline since 1953. The pipeline moves up to 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.
A 4-mile (6-kilometer) portion of the pipeline crosses the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.