Enbridge Line 5 Battle Heats Up
The long-standing battle between oil supplier Enbridge and the State of Michigan just got messier. In between, what some say is a precarious situation with the Enbridge Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinaw. Fuel is flowing again in one of the company’s twin pipelines of Line 5 under the Straits. Damage to an anchor support was recently discovered. One of the lines was shut down for an inspection. Enbridge reports it will repair the support system pending approval from state and federal regulatory agencies.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer has another idea. She wants the thing shut down. No oil flowing under the straits period. Her Attorney General, Dana Nessel, is filing court briefs to that effect. The state and Enbridge have a standing lawsuit being litigated before the Ingham County Circuit Court. An Enbridge spokesman says federal regulators were contacted about reopening one of the two pipelines not affected by the anchor support and they were fine with that. Line 5 has been a sore spot for environmentalists for years. It carries up to 20 million gallons of oil and natural gas under the straits every day. A major breach could be catastrophic for the entire straits area.
Enbridge has agreed the existing exposed lines which lay at the bottom of the straits could be better protected. It is moving forward with a plan to dig a tunnel under the straits to house replacement pipelines. That project won approval in 2018, before Gretchen Whitmer took office as Governor. Her administration has been fighting the project and Enbridge from day one. The administration most recently is claiming the new tunnel project is unconstitutional. A Michigan Court of Appeals panel of Judges recently ruled in favor of Enbridge on that question.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the below statement following Attorney General Nessel actions against Enbridge: “I fully support Attorney General’s action today on Line 5. Enbridge resumed operation of the pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac without any explanation of the cause for the damage to the pipeline structure or plan to prevent it from happening again. Moreover, Enbridge has not timely complied with the state’s request for full and complete information and resumed operation without even consultation. This brazen disregard for the people of Michigan and the safety and well-being of our Great Lakes is unacceptable.”