Michigan governor seeks shutdown of Enbridge pipeline in Great Lakes

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took legal action Friday to shut down an Enbridge pipeline that carries oil beneath a channel that links two of the Great Lakes.

Whitmer’s office notified the Calgary-based company that it was revoking an easement granted in 1953 to extend a roughly 6.4 kilometre section of the pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac.

The revocation will take effect within 180 days, at which point the flow of oil must stop.

The Democratic governor’s legal counsel said in a letter to Enbridge that the revocation resulted from “a violation of the public trust doctrine” and “a longstanding, persistent pattern of noncompliance with easement conditions and the standard of due care.”

In this 2017, file photo, fresh nuts, bolts and fittings are ready to be added to the east leg of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline in Michigan. Enbridge Inc. has produced legally acceptable plans for dealing with a potential spill in the Great Lakes, according to a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a court ruling June 5, 2020. (Dale G. Young/Detroit News via The Associated Press)

The move escalates a multi-year battle over Line 5, which is part of Enbridge’s Lakehead network of pipelines that carries oil from western Canada to refineries in the U.S. and Ontario. The pipeline carries about 87 million litres of oil and natural gas liquids daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ont.

The company says the underwater segment is in good condition and has never leaked. Environmental groups contend it’s vulnerable to a rupture that would devastate portions of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Also, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she filed a lawsuit Friday to terminate the easement and shut down the line, saying the action show that “Line 5 poses a great risk to our state, and it must be removed from our public waterways.”

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