Gov. Whitmer taking action to shut down Line 5 dual pipelines in Straits of Mackinac

Gov. Whitmer taking action to shut down Line 5 dual pipelines in Straits of Mackinac
Posted at 2:29 PM, Nov 13, 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the state is taking action to shut down the Line 5 dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.

The state says Enbridge has "repeatedly" violated the 1953 Easement, and that the continued operation of the pipelines violates the state's energy needs.

The state also filed a lawsuit asking the Ingham County Circuit Court to recognize the validity of this action. The state is revoking the easement for violation of the public trust doctrine, citing an 'unreasonable risk' that continued operation of the dual pipelines poses to the Great Lakes.

Whitmer said the state is also terminating the easement based on Enbridge’s "persistent and incurable violations of the easement’s terms and conditions."

The easement requires Enbridge to exercise due care in operating the pipelines, and also requires Enbridge to satisfy numerous specific conditions, such as ensuring that the pipelines are physically supported at least every 75 feet, are covered by a multi-layer coating to prevent corrosion and other physical damage, and are within certain curvature limitations.

The notice requires Enbridge to cease operations of the dual pipelines in the Straits by May of 2021, allowing for an "orderly transition that protects Michigan’s energy needs over the coming months."

“Here in Michigan, the Great Lakes define our borders, but they also define who we are as people. Enbridge has routinely refused to take action to protect our Great Lakes and the millions of Americans who depend on them for clean drinking water and good jobs. They have repeatedly violated the terms of the 1953 easement by ignoring structural problems that put our Great Lakes and our families at risk,” Whitmer said. “Most importantly, Enbridge has imposed on the people of Michigan an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that could devastate our economy and way of life. That’s why we’re taking action now, and why I will continue to hold accountable anyone who threatens our Great Lakes and fresh water."

“After spending more than 15 months reviewing Enbridge’s record over the last 67 years, it is abundantly clear that today’s action is necessary. Enbridge’s historic failures and current non-compliance present too great a risk to our Great Lakes and the people who depend upon them,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Our number one priority is protecting the Great Lakes and we will continue to work with our partners across Michigan in pursuit of that objective.”

The state is revoking the 1953 easement for violation of the public trust doctrine. which recognizes the State of Michigan as the “trustee” of the public’s rights in the Great Lakes and lays upon the state legal obligations to protect those rights from any impairment.

The state found that the 1953 easement violated the public trust doctrine from its inception because the easement does not make the necessary public trust findings. Moreover, the state also found that the continued use of the dual pipelines cannot be reconciled with the public's rights in the Great Lakes and the State's duty to protect them.

"Transporting millions of gallons of petroleum products each day through two 67-year old pipelines that lie exposed along the entire span of a busy shipping channel presents an extraordinary and unacceptable risk," the governor's office said. "The dual pipelines are vulnerable to anchor strikes, similar dangerous impacts, and the inherent risks of pipeline operations."