3/22/24 - State Continues Working To Shut Down Line 5

Line 5 runs across the Straits of Mackinac

The Attorney General supports a lawsuit to shut down the Line 5 Pipeline in northern Michigan.

 - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the state of Michigan, argued to federal appellate judges in Cincinnati, that Enbridge Energy's efforts to avoid a closure of its Line 5 pipeline, should be decided in state court, not federal.  They say the reason is because the Enbridge missed a procedural window to move its case to federal court.

Enbridge argued that a federal judge's ruling in a separate case, restarted the company's 30-day clock for federal removal.

The arguments mark the latest battle in the legal war between the state and Enbridge over the continued operation of Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac.

The debate over whether that fight should continue in a federal courtroom or in front of a state bench will determine the limits of Michigan's ability to use state law and regulatory authority to govern the pipeline.

The lawsuit at issue in Thursday's arguments in a Cincinnati courtroom was filed in state court in 2019.  The lawsuit alleged Line 5's easement through the Straits of Mackinac constituted a public nuisance and violated public trust and environmental laws.

Nearly a year and a half after Nessel filed her suit, in November 2020, Gov. Whitmer and the director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources filed a second similar suit in state court that asked the judge to support the state's revocation of Enbridge's 1953 easement through the Straits of Mackinac because the pipeline was an "unreasonable risk" to the Great Lakes.

Enbridge countersued to seek the pipeline open and then removed the governor's case to federal court where federal law and federal regulators would have precedence.

While the federal cases were pending, Nessel's 2019 case in state court was halted.

In November 2021, federal District Judge Janet Neff ruled the case must stay in federal court since it involved federal law, federal regulators and, with Canada's treaty invocation, could have a profound effect on foreign affairs.

Gov. Whitmer dismissed her case and threw her support behind Nessel's 2019 case.

In December 2021, Enbridge removed Nessel's case to federal court and argued Neff's decision in Gov. Whitmer's case had constituted new and pertinent action that restarted a 30-day clock for removal that otherwise would have ended in July 2019.

(Additional information from The Detroit News)


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