A Michigan judge refused the Attorney General’s efforts to move the fifth line of proceedings to state court.


Washington — Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. wins a significant victory in the Line 5 dispute on Tuesday as a Michigan judge rejects a bid by the state prosecutor to expel a cross-border pipeline dispute from federal court. I put it in.

Judge Janet Neff of the US Circuit Court issued a long-awaited decision late Tuesday, agreeing that the dispute with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration would include “substantial federal issues.”

This decision resolves one of the central issues in this case, whether the federal court is the appropriate forum for it, and standoffs are an important bilateral issue affecting both countries. , Canada and the United States settle.

Neff said in a ruling that the Proceedings on Line 5 were “substantial federal issues” and that hearing them did not undermine the right to resolve the Michigan state’s problems. rice field.

“The court has determined that the parties to Embridge are responsible for proving that the proceedings have been properly removed (from the state court),” she wrote.

“The scope of property rights claimed by States parties inevitably validates the interpretation of federal law that imposes those rights, and this court is appropriate for determining these controversial and substantive federal issues. Forum. “

The ruling marks an important victory for Embridge, who first sought a state-to-federal court transition, which Michigan has been fighting for the past 12 months.

“Embridge is pleased with this decision and, as we have always argued, agrees that the proceedings belong to federal court,” the company said in a statement. “This is a matter of both federal and international law, and the federal court will handle this case.”

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office in Michigan did not immediately respond to media inquiries on Tuesday.

Neff also agreed to accept two recent supplementary explanations submitted by the federal government in Ottawa, invoking a 1977 treaty designed to ensure the uninterrupted flow of energy across the border between the two countries. I have detailed Canada’s decision to do so.

These briefs reveal that plans for bilateral treaty negotiations on Line 5 are “on track” and formal negotiations are expected to begin “soon.” If these negotiations fail, the next step in the dispute resolution process will be binding international arbitration.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will put line 5 on the agenda when he meets with US President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the White House on Thursday.

Canada chose to formally invoke the 44-year-old treaty last month after negotiations involving mediators appointed by the court ended on Tuesday when it said it was “stagnation.”

Last November, Whitmer revoked the easement of 1953, allowed the operation of Line 5, and ordered it to be closed for fear of an environmental disaster in the Straits of Mackinac, a waterway where the pipeline crosses the Great Lakes.

The White House has acknowledged that the US Army Corps of Engineers is conducting an environmental assessment of Embridge’s plans to wrap the underwater portion of the twin pipeline in a deeply reinforced underground tunnel.

However, they have eagerly avoided making decisions about Whitmer’s efforts. In all accounts, Biden’s close ally, once on the candidate list as Vice President, has completely closed the line.

Line 5 crosses the Canadian-US border and the Great Lakes via a twin line that runs along the bottom of the strait connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, with over 540,000 barrels of crude oil and gas liquid per day. Carry.

Proponents call this an essential and essential energy source, especially propane, for some Midwestern states, including Michigan and Ohio. It is also the main source of raw material for refineries on the north side of the border, including those that supply jet fuel to some of Canada’s busiest airports.

Critics hope to shut down the line, arguing that it is only a matter of time before anchor strikes and technical failures cause catastrophic environmental disasters in one of the region’s most important watersheds. is.

They also point to a recent rupture of a pipeline off California, believed to be the result of an anchor strike, as an example of the fate that could hit the strait if Line 5 continues to operate.

This report by Canadian Press was first published on November 16, 2021.

James McCurtain

Canadian press

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