Enbridge Energy plans to ask a federal judge to dismiss Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order to shut down the controversial oil and natural gas liquids pipeline, Line 5.
“Enbridge is advancing its case in federal court and continues to vigorously defend the validity of the Line 5 easement in the Straits of Mackinac and its right to operate the pipeline,” said Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy in a statement.
The filing this week is essentially a notice to the judge and the state that it will seek a dismissal of Whitmer’s move to revoke Line 5′s easement to operate the pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.
As of right now, the Canadian company has until May 2021 to stop the flow of oil and natural gas through the line. Whitmer announced the shutdown of the line in November following a review by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources of Enbridge’s compliance with the easement.
A portion of the 645-mile pipeline, which travels from Wisconsin to Ontario, across both Michigan peninsulas, runs through the Straits of Mackinac. Built in 1953, the line has been met with continued controversy and calls for its shutdown for years.
Enbridge argues in a court filing that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), not the state, oversee and regulate the pipelines throughout the U.S., and the organization has said the pipelines are “fit for service.”
Enbridge argues in its motion, the state is trying to improperly take over PHMSA’s regulatory role. But PHMSA “is the sole entity responsible for regulating pipeline safety uniformly, and thus expressly preempted states from imposing their own safety regulations,” the filing said.
Whitmer’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Enbridge had already filed an injunction asking a federal judge to block Whitmer’s order to shutdown the line. In a response statement to that filing, Whitmer said the legal challenge, “brazenly defies the people of Michigan and their right to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill.”
Despite the ongoing litigation, Enbridge is still working to replace part of the line and house that section in a multi-use tunnel buried under the bedrock of the straits, which is the subject of other ongoing litigation.
In the spring of 2018, a freighter dragged an anchor across the line and caused some damage. No oil was spilled. However, Enbridge disclosed this past June that the pipelines had been struck again in 2019 by anchors or cables.
Environmental groups have long called for revocation of the easement, but Enbridge has long maintained that the aging pipeline is safe.
Opponents of shutting down the line say it would cut off energy to residents of Michigan, especially those in the Upper Peninsula. The line transports 22.68 million gallons per day of crude oils and natural gas liquids to later become propane. According to Enbridge, Line 5′s resources supplies 65% of the propane used in the Upper Peninsula.
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