ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Yesterday, in the State of Michigan’s lawsuit against Enbridge Energy to enforce Governor Whitmer’s revocation of the Line 5 easement, a joint status report was filed which communicated to the court that mediation will extend through September due to a canceled meeting in August. Currently, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff is considering whether the lawsuit should stay in federal court, which is Enbridge’s position, or be returned to state court where it was originally filed, which is the State’s position and the National Wildlife Federation’s. The below statement can be attributed to Oday Salim, staff attorney for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center:
“The risks and facts around Line 5 are clear: this pipeline can’t remain in this location because of the existential risk to the Great Lakes, which are held in public trust and also protected through tribal treaty rights. It’s also clear that alternatives to Line 5 are achievable in short order. Every day that Line 5 continues to operate, the Great Lakes remain at risk. Delay is Enbridge’s friend, and their main legal focus, because they make at least $1-2 million a day for Line 5’s continued operation.”
The National Wildlife Federation was the first organization to recognize the threat that Line 5 poses via the landmark 2012 “Sunken Hazard” report. Since then, the National Wildlife Federation has partnered with numerous allies and led efforts to shut down Line 5, including commissioning the seminal University of Michigan studies of the risks Line 5 poses, sending divers to inspect the pipelines, commissioning the definitive reports on alternatives to Line 5 — which critically showed that fuel supplies to Michigan manufacturing plants would not be affected by shutting down Line 5 — being appointed to the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, and running sophisticated and effective public education campaigns.
The more than six-decade-old Line 5 pipeline, operated by Enbridge Energy, carries up to 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids per day from Superior, Wisc., to Sarnia, Ontario, taking a shortcut through Michigan and along the lake bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The Mackinac Straits section of Line 5, designed to last 50 years, has been plagued by a range of issues, including missing protective coatings to multiple strikes by anchors and other objects. The pipeline lies in what University of Michigan researchers have called “the worst possible place for an oil spill” in the Great Lakes.
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