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Enbridge Energy Line 6B Construction in Indiana
Midwest Region, August 1, 2013
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After Enbridge Energy Partners LP’s Line 6B ruptured near Marshall, Michigan, in July 2010, dumping nearly 1 million gallons of Canadian tar sands bitumen into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River, the company decided to replace the entire line. Constructed in 1968 and running 285 miles from Griffith, Lake County, Indiana to Marysville, St. Clair County, Michigan – and ultimately under the St. Clair River to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada – the existing 30-inch diameter pipe will be replaced with a new 36-inch pipe. About 60 miles of the replacement are within four counties in northwest Indiana: Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph.
Enbridge’s consultant first contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northern Indiana Suboffice for early coordination on the project in November 2011, with additional early coordination in January 2012. Numerous streams and wetlands would be affected, since in 1968 avoiding cropland and constructing a pipeline through “worthless wetlands” was strongly preferred. The Service suggested alternative alignments, either as short segments or long re-routes, in order to avoid the most significant wetlands. In particular, we strongly recommended following the Vector natural gas pipeline through northeastern LaPorte and northwestern St. Joseph Counties in order to avoid high-quality wetlands where the existing Line 6B is located. The Vector pipeline is partially owned by Enbridge, and its route had been vetted by a full environmental impact statement under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. However, Enbridge refused to follow the Vector alignment.
Enbridge applied for Section 404 wetland fill permits and Section 401 Water Quality Certifications in August 2012, with permits required from both the Chicago District and Detroit District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Service again requested that the Vector alignment be followed as the least damaging practicable alternative, but neither the Corps nor the Indiana Department of Environmental Management supported that alternative. The Service did not provide concurrence that the pipeline construction project would be unlikely to adversely affect the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) because of all the upland and wetland woodland that would be cleared, primarily as temporary work spaces.
In late 2012-early 2013, Region 3 Ecological Services was evaluating its position on the adverse effects of long, linear construction projects on both migratory birds and bats, and in fact was in discussions with Enbridge on another major pipeline project, the Flannigan South Pipeline, which would extend through four states between Flannigan/Pontiac, Illinois and Cushing, Oklahoma. That pipeline would require Section 7 consultation concerning the threatened decurrent false aster (Boltonia decurrens), the endangered American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus), and the endangered Indiana bat, requiring habitat preservation and replacement for these species, and the Region also determined that mitigation for impacts to forested and grassland migratory bird habitat would be necessary. Since the same impacts to bat and bird habitats were going to occur for the construction of Line 6B as for the Flannigan South Pipeline, the Service determined that further consultation was needed for Line 6B, including bat surveys along the pipeline route in order to determine the presence or likely absence of Indiana bat maternity colonies within the area of impact. Mitigation for the loss of migratory bird habitat was determined to be necessary for Line 6B whether or not Indiana bats were found.
During June and early July 2013, Enbridge’s consultants conducted bat surveys at 41 sites within the four affected Indiana counties where the FWS determined that suitable habitat for Indiana bats is likely present. Either mist netting or acoustic surveys were conducted and no Indiana bats were found. However, 10 northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis), which was proposed for listing as endangered in October 2013, and two little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), which have been decimated nationally by white-nose syndrome, and five additional bat species were found, thus increasing our knowledge of bat use of Northwest Indiana habitats.
The Corps of Engineers provided a Biological Assessment to the Service on July 29, 2013, concerning the results of the bat survey, and determined that the Line 6B construction project is not likely to adversely affect the endangered Indiana bat. By letter of August 2, 2013, the Service concurred with that determination.
Enbridge agreed to mitigate for the loss of migratory bird habitat in both Indiana and Michigan (the Michigan portion of the project did not require Corps permits because the State has assumed permitting authority and had already issued permits for the project, which began construction in 2012) and contributed over $4 million to purchase and plant forested and grassland habitat for birds within the two states. The Conservation Fund is managing the Enbridge funds under a Memorandum of Agreement with the Service and will be soliciting habitat restoration projects shortly from qualified applicants within Northwest Indiana and the affected Michigan counties.

Contact Info: Elizabeth McCloskey, 219-983-9753, elizabeth_mccloskey@fws.gov



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