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The following statement can be attributed to Sean McBrearty, Michigan Legislative and Policy Director, Clean Water Action:


“In March of 2020, Clean Water Action applauded EGLE’s proposal to reject Macomb County’s request to build an open sewage lagoon in public waters adjacent to the Chapaton Retention Treatment Basin. EGLE denied this proposal because ceding 1,400 feet of public trust waters for storing sewage was not in the public interest and the project could have potentially damaged public trust waters in Lake St. Clair. How the very same agency can now permit an oil tunnel through the Straits of Mackinac, despite the obvious flaws in the permit applications and the tremendous potential for environmental devastation, is unfathomable.


Unfortunately, EGLE’s process in this case was flawed from the beginning. Instead of having EGLE staff ready to answer questions from the public during their initial question and answer sessions, technical questions were handed off to unqualified Enbridge PR staff who provided media spin instead of real answers. EGLE granted these permit requests without conducting an environmental impact statement despite the fact that geological and hydro-geological experts identified major flaws in the permit requests. These experts showed that Enbridge had already cut corners on geotechnical research and tunnel design. The documents included in Enbridge’s permit requests leave more questions than answers.


EGLE is a regulatory body charged with protecting the Great Lakes and our environment. They are not supposed to be a rubber stamp for ecologically devastating projects like this one. The conditions put in place by EGLE will do little to mitigate the potential harm of this project.


Regardless of EGLE’s unfortunate decision today, the fight is far from over. Enbridge still needs permits and approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers before they are able to build an oil tunnel. So far those two agencies appear to be conducting much more thorough reviews of Enbridge’s proposal, as is appropriate for a project that would risk the Great Lakes for an oil company’s continued profits.”



Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. Clean Water Action is Michigan’s largest grassroots conservation group with over 133,000 members across the state. Through direct advocacy and education we organize Michigan residents to protect the Great Lakes and our water resources. Learn more at

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