Enbridge sues Michigan over oil pipeline shutdown order

Michigan
Michigan Pipeline

FILE – This June 2020 file photo, shot from a television screen provided by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy shows damage to anchor support EP-17-1 on the east leg of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline within the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer criticized Enbridge Inc. on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 for what she described as the company’s refusal to make an airtight pledge that it would pay for any damages caused by an oil spill from its pipeline beneath a Great Lakes waterway. (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy via AP File)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Enbridge is fighting an order to shut down its oil pipeline that crosses the waterway connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

The Canadian company filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who demanded earlier this month that Line 5 be closed within 180 days.

“In the face of continued roadblocks by this Administration it’s time for the State to stop playing politics with the energy needs and anxieties of US and Canadian consumers and businesses that depend on Line 5,” said Vern Yu, Executive Vice President and President, Liquids Pipelines.

“It is concerning to see the current Administration is willing to compromise these needs. We remain highly committed to protecting the Great Lakes, the environment, and all the people who use these waters while delivering energy that people rely on daily. Enbridge’s Line 5 has served Michiganders safely without spilling a drop of oil at the Straits crossing for more than 65 years, over nine different State Administrations.”

Enbridge says the only agency with authority to regulate Line 5 is the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Whitmer based her order on revocation of an easement granted by the state in 1953 to run the pipeline across state land at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.

“Gov. Whitmer was elected to protect and defend the Great Lakes, which are vital to Michigan’s economy and support over 350,000 jobs. Tuesday’s lawsuit filed by Enbridge brazenly defies the people of Michigan and their right to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill,” wrote Gov. Whitmer’s Communications Director Tiffany Brown.

“In short, Enbridge claims it can continue to pump oil through the Straits of Mackinac indefinitely, posing enormous risk to our economy and way of life – and that the people of Michigan have no say in the matter. The company that spilled nearly one million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and made Michigan the home of the largest on-land oil spill in American history has again demonstrated it cares only about its bottom line.” 

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