Whitmer's office slams Enbridge over lawsuit seeking to block state's Line 5 shutdown order

click to enlarge In 2013, the National Wildlife Federation sent divers to look at Enbridge, Inc.'s aging straits pipelines, finding wide spans of unsupported structures encrusted with exotic zebra mussels and quagga mussels. - National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation
In 2013, the National Wildlife Federation sent divers to look at Enbridge, Inc.'s aging straits pipelines, finding wide spans of unsupported structures encrusted with exotic zebra mussels and quagga mussels.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office assailed Enbridge Inc. for filing a lawsuit Tuesday in an effort to reverse the state’s order to shut down controversial pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac, saying the oil giant was endangering the Great Lakes and “cares only about its bottom line.”

The Canadian company’s legal challenge in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids alleges the state lacked the authority to close the Line 5 oil and gas pipelines that cross between waterways connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

"The attempt to shut down Line 5 interferes with the comprehensive federal regulation of pipeline safety and burdens interstate and foreign commerce in clear violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution," Enbridge said in a news release.

In a Nov. 13 order, the state ordered Enbridge to halt the flow of oil by May 2021, saying the aging and exposed pipelines present “an extraordinary and unacceptable risk.”

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

Brown points to the disastrous Enbridge oil spill in July 25, 2010, when one of the company’s pipelines ruptured and spewed more than 840,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek that feeds into the Kalamazoo River. The leak “made Michigan the home of the largest on-land spill in American history,” Brown said.

“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,” she said.

Line 5, which carries about 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids a day, has become controversial in recent years because Enbridge was found to be violating the 1953 easement agreement with the state, which orders the dual pipelines to be anchored to the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac every 75 feet. Underwater photos revealed that parts of the structure were unsupported.

The Great Lakes are home to 21% of the world's fresh surface water, and supply drinking water to 48 million people, including 5 million Michigan residents. The Great Lakes also provide 1.3 million jobs that generate $82 billion in annual wages across the U.S., including more than 350,000 jobs in Michigan, according to Whitmer's office.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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