By Michael Kern
Enbridge filed on Tuesday a federal complaint at a U.S. district court seeking an injunction to stop Michigan’s order for closure of the Line 5 pipeline, arguing that the state’s shutdown order violates U.S. federal law and the Constitution.
The Canada-based pipeline operator and developer filed the federal complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Enbridge is also moving the complaint filed by Michigan against Line 5 on November 13 in Michigan state court to the Federal Court.
Earlier this month, Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the director of the state’s Department of Natural Resources revoked Enbridge’s easement for the operation of the twin Line 5 pipeline, citing repeated violations of the easement and the need to protect the Great Lakes.
Michigan’s notice required Enbridge to cease operations of the pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac by May of 2021.
“The state is revoking the easement for violation of the public trust doctrine, given the unreasonable risk that continued operation of the dual pipelines poses to the Great Lakes,” an official statement said. “Moreover, the state is terminating the easement based on Enbridge’s persistent and incurable violations of the easement’s terms and conditions.”
The twin pipelines have been in operation for 65 years, which prompted the Canadian pipeline operator to propose a replacement of a section of the pipes with new ones a few years ago. The Michigan Legislature approved it in late 2018.
In its federal complaint this week, Enbridge said that a federal agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), is Enbridge’s safety regulator, not the State of Michigan.
“The State’s attempt to assume the role of safety regulator through its notice purporting to “terminate and revoke” the easement is improper and unlawful,” Enbridge said in a statement.
A disruption of Line 5 would create a propane shortage, higher energy prices, and hardship for Michigan families, Enbridge added.