Enbridge sues for right to continue operating Mackinac Straits oil pipeline

A Enbridge company diver inspecting the Line 5 tunnel under the Straits. (UPEC Courtesy Photo)
A Enbridge company diver inspecting the Line 5 tunnel under the Straits. (UPEC Courtesy Photo)(WLUC)
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 5:38 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Oil pipeline giant Enbridge filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration from shutting down the controversial Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.

Whitmer announced on Nov. 13 that her administration was revoking Enbridge’s 1953 easement to operating the twin oil pipelines underwater near the Mackinac Bridge. She issued an order requiring the pipelines to shut down no later than May 2021.

However, Enbridge filed a separate lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to block the shutdown order and allow the company to continue operating the dual pipelines.

The pipelines have been in operation for 67 years and state officials have cited a number of safety concerns. Most recently, boat anchors -- some from vessels working on behalf of Enbridge -- hit and damaged the pipelines in 2018 and 2019.

“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,” said Tiffany Brown, who is Whitmer’s spokeswoman. “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 – and that the people of Michigan have no say in the matter.”

Whitmer’s administration decided the pipelines pose an unreasonable risk to the Great Lakes and claims Enbridge repeatedly has violated terms of its easement. She is concerned about an environmental catastrophe possible if one of the pipelines ruptures and spews oil in the Straits of Mackinac.

With 350,000 jobs in Michigan dependent on the Great Lakes, Whitmer said an oil spill could jeopardize the state’s economy.

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