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Enbridge will defy state order; Whitmer threatens more action

Wednesday is the deadline for Enbridge to stop operating Line 5.
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 5:28 PM EDT
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UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - Wednesday is the deadline for Enbridge to stop operating Line 5.

It marks 180 days since Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan DNR told Enbridge its easement, allowing it to operate in the Straits of Mackinac, would be revoked. Enbridge says it plans to defy the order.

“We don’t plan to stop operating unless we are ordered by a court,” said Ryan Duffy, Enbridge spokesperson.

The Canadian company’s pipeline delivers light and crude oil across Michigan and the Midwest.

In a statement to TV6, the governor’s office says, “oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac are a ticking time bomb.”

It says if Enbridge does not stop Line 5 by Wednesday, “Enbridge’s continued operation…would be unlawful.”

However, a spokesperson for the attorney general says, “The jurisdictional issue will not be decided until sometime after May 12. We need a court order that requires Enbridge to shut down in compliance with the notice.”

The legal battle between Enbridge and the state is still ongoing in federal court. Enbridge says it believes an order to stop operating is unlikely. The company has entered mediation with the state.

“That’s a good step forward and we support that process,” said Duffy. “We hope that we are able to find some common ground and hopefully find a resolution.”

Enbridge says mediation discussions are confidential, but the next meeting is May 18.

On Tuesday, the governor sent a letter to Enbridge threatening to go after Enbridge’s profits if Line 5 isn’t shut down. Read the full letter by clicking here.

Governor spokesperson Bobby Leddy full statement to TV6:

“One of the governor’s top priorities is to protect and defend the Great Lakes, which are vital to Michigan’s economy. The Great Lakes support over 1.3 million jobs that generate $82 billion in wages annually across the US, including 350,000 jobs in Michigan. We cannot risk the devastating economic, environmental, and public health impacts of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes. These oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac are a ticking time bomb, and their continued presence violates the public trust and poses a grave threat to Michigan’s environment and economy. The governor fully stands behind her decision to revoke and terminate the 1953 easement, while securing Michigan’s energy needs.

“Last November, the governor and the Director of the Department of Natural Resources issued a Notice of Termination and Revocation of the 1953 easement to Enbridge. That easement is necessary for Enbridge to operate its oil pipelines that run through the Great Lakes. The notice gave Enbridge 180 days to arrange for shutdown, and subsequent decommissioning, of the pipelines. That 180 day period expires on May 12. As of that date, Enbridge’s continued operation of the Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac would be unlawful.”

Attorney general spokesperson Lynsey Mukomel full statement to TV6:

“Our action will be through the courts. We filed our lawsuit on behalf of the Governor immediately after the Notice was issued. The lawsuit seeks a court order upholding the Notice and requiring Enbridge to comply. Enbridge has taken procedural maneuvers to delay that by removing the case to federal court that does not have jurisdiction over the state’s claims. We are fighting to get the case back to the state court that does have jurisdiction. The jurisdictional issue will not be decided until sometime after May 12. We need a court order that requires Enbridge to shut down in compliance with the Notice. We will continue to work to get that as soon as possible. We are reviewing other remedies that may be available to the State if Enbridge continues to operate the pipelines after the deadline.”

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