Enbridge has signed a letter of intent to pick a division of Michels Corp. to oversee a 40-mile relocation of the company’s Line 5 oil-and-gas pipeline in northern Wisconsin.
Enbridge announced it had signed the agreement with Michels Pipeline, a subsidiary of the Brownsville-based contractor, on Monday. Enbridge is pursuing a reroute of its Line 5 pipeline in response to the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s seeking, through a lawsuit filed in 2019, to have the line removed from their reservation.
Enbridge’s alternative route would take the 70-year-old pipeline around the reservation, a project the company says could create about 700 construction jobs. The pipeline carries up to 23 million gallons of oil and natural-gas liquids a day from Superior through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Sarnia, Ontario.
“Every step of our growth solidifies our deep roots as a family owned and operated company with great pride in our Wisconsin heritage,” said Matthew Westphal, president of Michels Pipeline. “We are pleased to be part of a project focused on making our home state’s energy infrastructure even better.”
Construction on the project could begin once Enbridge secures the necessary permits. The reroute would cross nearly 200 bodies of water and temporarily affect 135 acres of wetlands. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which is now evaluating the project, last month released a draft environmental impact statement that is now drawing criticism from a coalition of area tribes.
Enbridge has meanwhile reached agreements with the private owners of land lying in the project’s path. The company maintains its new route will minimize harm to the environment.
Separately, various construction unions have formed a group with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce to advocate for the project. The labor-aligned supporters include the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, the Wisconsin Laborers and Construction Business Group.
“We’re looking forward to moving this project forward, creating economic opportunity in northern Wisconsin, and energy security and reliability in the Midwest,” said Guy Krepps, director of major projects at Enbridge. Follow @natebeck9