Michigan Gov. Whitmer, AG Nessel Move to Shut Down Line 5 Amid Enbridge Delays in Federal Court

Gov. Whitmer withdraws case in federal court to support AG Nessel’s state public trust claim

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Today Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel acted to protect the Great Lakes from the urgent threat Line 5 poses to our water and way of life. For over a year, Enbridge Energy has employed multiple legal delay tactics to prevent the courts from hearing the merits of Governor Whitmer’s order for Line 5’s removal from the Great Lakes, most recently by removing it to federal court. However, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed an independent lawsuit to shut down Line 5 in 2019, prior to the Governor’s 2020 filing, and that case remains in state court.

Today, Gov. Whitmer withdrew her lawsuit in federal court and supported Attorney General Nessel’s motion to reopen the 2019 state court action to shut down Line 5.

Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes Regional Executive Director for the National Wildlife Federation, issued the following statement in support:

“We strongly support Gov. Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel’s courageous and steadfast legal strategy to shut down Line 5. We’ve had enough of this Canadian corporation and the Canadian government itself tying up Michigan’s efforts to protect our Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill. Thank you, Gov. Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel for taking action to return the protection of Michigan’s land and waters to our state. Line 5 is a ticking time bomb and this move to cut through Enbridge’s legal delay tactics is the best way to move forward to protect the Great Lakes.”

“We urgently call on President Biden to move quickly to support the protection of the Great Lakes by clearly and definitively backing the State of Michigan’s duty and authority to take all necessary actions to protect this critical resource, Michiganders, and Tribal treaty rights. President Biden can and should act swiftly to stop Enbridge’s meritless legal claims that have one goal: delay.”

 

Background:

 Line 5, the 68-year old oil and gas pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac pumping up to 23 million gallons daily, is a ticking time bomb in the Great Lakes. Line 5 has sustained substantial damage from anchor strikes, it has never been properly supported, the protective coating is peeling away and experts across the country have concluded a spill would be nearly impossible to clean-up.

Because this pipeline remains a major risk in this location, and Enbridge has proven they can’t operate with due care, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered the pipeline shut down in 2020 and filed in state court to enforce her order—but Enbridge moved to transfer that case to federal court where it languished for almost a year. Last week, the federal court - without hearing from the Biden administration - agreed with Enbridge on taking over jurisdiction, which is likely to lead to additional years of delay while Line 5 continues to remain a threat to the Great Lakes.

Since the case is unlikely to move forward expeditiously as long as the federal court keeps jurisdiction of the 2020 case, Governor has voluntarily dismissed the 2020 case stuck in federal court so the 2019 state case can move forward.

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