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Enbridge to continue Line 5 operations past Governor Whitmer's shutdown orders

Gov. Whitmer taking action to shut down Line 5 dual pipelines in Straits of Mackinac
Posted at 9:13 PM, May 12, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — In November, Governor Whitmer announced that she would shut down Canadian-based Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline, citing environmental concerns that the pipeline's infrastructure was outdated and at risk for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.

The deadline she set was 180 days from the announcement on May 12. At midnight on Wednesday, Enbridge will be officially past the deadline.

The pipeline company says that it does not plan to shut down operations unless a court or regulator instructs it do so. A spokesperson for Enbridge says the company believes the state does not have the power to stop operations and considers it a federal matter.

At this time, the issue is being litigated in federal court.

In a statement, Enbridge Spokesperson Ryan Duff said:

"We will not stop operating the pipeline unless we are ordered by a court or our regulator, which we view as highly unlikely.

"Line 5 is operating safely, reliably and is in compliance with the law. The State of Michigan has never presented any concrete evidence to suggest otherwise. The US agency in charge of pipeline safety, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), has confirmed on multiple occasions that the pipelines are fit for service.

"This matter is currently being litigated in federal court, where Enbridge will vigorously defend its right to continue to operate the pipeline. The State is arguing that its case belongs back in state court. The question of whether the State’s case belongs in federal or state court is not likely to be resolved this week. Separately, the judge responsible for the case has ordered the parties to work with a neutral mediator to explore a potential global resolution of the case. Mediation is ongoing with the next session scheduled for May 18."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has stated she plans to enforce Governor Whitmer's order. In a tweet earlier this week, she stated, "We shouldn't be in a position where Canada stands to gain nearly all the benefit and the state of Michigan bears all the risks."

Governor Whitmer has also told Enbridge that if they are successful in litigation, the company will have to forfeit all the profits from May 13 onward to the state thereafter.

READ MORE: Whitmer threatens profit seizure if pipeline keeps operating

Spokesperson for Attorney General Nessel, Lynsey Mukomel, said:

"The Governor acted within her authority to revoke and terminate the easement and our department is actively pursuing the matter in court. While Enbridge continues to operate, it does so at its own peril and in violation of the law. The Department of Attorney General looks forward to arguing the case in court and is disappointed to see Enbridge show such disregard for the people and government of Michigan."

READ MORE: Michigan has more than 100,000 miles of pipelines—here's what they do

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