Michigan abandons Line 5 challenge to focus instead on 2019 state court proceedings


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer suddenly abandoned a federal court proceeding aimed at closing the cross-border Line 5 pipeline.

Instead, Attorney General Dana Nessel states that Whitmer will focus government efforts on a long-standing state court proceeding against pipeline owner Embridge, originally filed in 2019.

In a statement, Nessel states that the original case remains the “fastest and most viable way” to completely abolish Line 5.

Michigan’s efforts were hit earlier this month when a judge in the US District Court upheld Embridge and allowed Whitmer’s proceedings to remain in federal court.

Last November, Whitmer revoked the easement 68 years ago that allowed Embridge to operate the line, fearing an environmental disaster in the Straits of Mackinac, where Line 5 crosses the Great Lakes.

The National Wildlife Federation called Line 5 a “time bomb” and supported Nessel’s motion to resume the proceedings in 2019, supporting the decision to abandon the proceedings.

“The Canadian company and the Canadian government itself are binding Michigan’s efforts to protect the Great Lakes from catastrophic oil spills,” said Mike Schriberg, executive director of the region, in a statement.

“Line 5 is a time bomb, and this move through Embridge’s legal delay tactics is the best way to move forward to protect the Great Lakes.”

Nessel said she and Whitmer were “in line with our commitment” to close the pipeline, “and this dismissal today will help us move that goal forward.” rice field.

“I fully support the Governor’s decision to dismiss the proceedings in federal court and instead focus on proceedings in state court,” Nessel said. “The state court proceedings are the quickest and most viable way to permanently abolish Line 5.”

Earlier this month, Canada said plans for bilateral treaty negotiations between Canada and the United States in a pipeline dispute were “on track”, but the timeline for formal negotiations remains unclear.

The treaty is a 1977 bilateral agreement aimed at avoiding disruption of cross-border energy flows and embridges the US District Court to convince the US District Court that bilateral disputes belong to federal court. Proved to be an important element of the strategy of.

If formal negotiations fail, the next step in the dispute resolution process is binding international arbitration.

Canada chose to formally invoke a 44-year-old treaty last month after a court-appointed mediator-related talks broke down between the two sides.

Embridge welcomed Michigan’s decision to waive the proceedings in federal court and said in a statement that the company would continue to seek confirmation of federal jurisdiction over Line 5.

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 resisted pressure to get involved in the conflict itself.

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. They also state that they are the main source of raw material for important 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 basins. is.

Canadian press