Michigan moves to close Line 5; Enbridge responds

December 14, 2020 By    

Enbridge filed a federal complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in November seeking an injunction to stop the state from taking steps to prevent the operation of the Line 5 pipeline.

Enbridge Straits Maritime Operations Center photo courtesy of Enbridge

The Enbridge Straits Maritime Operations Center acts as the nerve center for a suite of marine traffic safety systems put in place by Enbridge in the Straits of Mackinac, as work progresses on the company’s Great Lakes Tunnel Project. Photo courtesy of Enbridge

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger sought to revoke and terminate a 1953 easement allowing Enbridge to operate the dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. They also filed a lawsuit asking the Ingham County Circuit Court to recognize the validity of the action.

The state claims the easement violates the public trust doctrine and its duty to protect the Great Lakes – in a press release it references concerns about a potential oil spill – and that Enbridge has violated the easement’s terms and conditions. The notice requires Enbridge to cease operations of the dual pipelines in the Straits by May 2021.

Enbridge remains confident that Line 5 continues to operate safely and says the state of Michigan has no credible basis for terminating the easement.

The company also notes that it has undertaken a variety of Line 5 projects requested by the state, including installing a new Line 5 crossing under the St. Clair River and pursuing permitting for the Great Lakes Tunnel Project, which would contain a new section of pipeline to replace the dual pipelines.

“In the face of continued roadblocks by this administration, it’s time for the state to stop playing politics with the energy needs and anxieties of U.S. and Canadian consumers and businesses that depend on Line 5,” says Vern Yu, executive vice president and president of liquids pipelines, in a company press release. “It is concerning to see the current administration is willing to compromise these needs. We remain highly committed to protecting the Great Lakes, the environment and all the people who use these waters while delivering energy that people rely on daily. Enbridge’s Line 5 has served Michiganders safely without spilling a drop of oil at the Straits crossing for more than 65 years, over nine different state administrations.”

Line 5 transports up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude and natural gas liquids, which are refined into propane. Line 5 supplies 65 percent of propane demand in the Upper Peninsula and 55 percent of Michigan’s statewide propane needs.

The National Propane Gas Association says it continues to support Enbridge and the Michigan Propane Gas Association in fighting efforts to shut down Line 5, which would have a major impact on the available supply to the Midwest region of the U.S.

Featured photo: The Enbridge Straits Maritime Operations Center is staffed by a team that monitors and coordinates multiple Enbridge safety measures designed to prevent an anchor strike on Line 5’s dual pipelines, which are anchored to the lakebed in the Straits of Mackinac, the company says. Measures include patrol boats directly over the Line 5 Straits crossing and additional patrol boats monitoring other vessels passing through the Straits. Photo courtesy of Enbridge

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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