Whitmer Orders Line 5 Shut Down, Cites Repeated Violations of Easement
Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered the shutdown of the Line 5 Pipeline, which runs under the Straits of Mackinac.
Friday, the Governor moved to revoke an easement granted by the State in 1953 that allows Enbridge, the pipeline’s owner, to operate at the bottom of the Straits.
Whitmer, along with DNR Director Dan Eichinger, cited the Public Trust Doctrine which entrusts the State of Michigan with protecting the Great Lakes, and Enbridge’s repeated violations of the easement as grounds for the actions.
State officials contend Line 5 is a “grave and unreasonable risk” to the state’s residents and natural resources.
The pipeline is now required to be shut down permanently 180 days from now, on May 12, 2021.
This comes after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a new complaint in Ingham County Circuit Court, seeking to revoke and terminate the 1953 easement.
The new lawsuit will bring claims in addition to Nessel’s lawsuit filed in 2019 seeking the shutdown of Line 5.
Despite the actions, Enbridge will continue work toward starting its tunnel under the Straits, by applying for permits related to the tunnel.
That, however, is the subject of Nessel’s lawsuits.
The plan was announced toward the end of Gov. Rick Snyder’s time in office.
At the time, both the company and the Snyder administration said the tunnel would capture any spilled oil.
Responding to Friday’s news, Enbridge said there was “no credible basis” for Whitmer’s action.
“Line 5 remains safe, as envisioned by the 1953 Easement, and as recently validated by our federal safety regulator,” said Vern Yu, the company’s president for liquids pipelines.
The company added that shutting down Line 5 would cause shortages of crude oil for refineries in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and eastern Canada, as well as propane shortages in northern Michigan.
It also would boost shipments of oil by rail or truck, Enbridge says.