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Canada invokes pipeline treaty a second time to protect Enbridge's Line 5

Enbridge Energy Line 5 pumping facility near Mackinaw City, Michigan.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Enbridge Energy Line 5 pumping facility near Mackinaw City, Michigan.

Canada is once again formally invoking a treaty with the U.S. to keep Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pumping energy products to Canada.

You might recall the first time Canada invoked the 1977 pipeline treaty was in November of 2020 when Governor Gretchen Whitmer gave Enbridge 180 days to shut down Line 5. Enbridge defied the governor’s order.

The case went to the courts. In October last year, the Canadian government put the U.S. on notice by invoking the treaty. Diplomatic talks have been limited, with serious negotiations yet to get underway.

This time in a statement, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said the pipeline treaty is being invoked to block a possible court judgment to shut down Line 5 in Wisconsin.

Similar to the situation in the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan, the segment of the Line 5 pipeline in Wisconsin falls under the provisions of the 1977 Agreement. This treaty ensures the uninterrupted transmission of hydrocarbons—in the case of Line 5, light crude oil and natural gas liquids—from one place in Canada to another, transiting through the United States.
Melanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada

The Bad River Band Reservation revoked Enbridge’s easement and asked for an immediate judgment to shut down Line 5 from the court.

Enbridge said they had an agreement with the tribe, giving it another 20 years to reroute Line 5 around the reservation.

In a statement, Joly said Canada respects the rights of Indigenous peoples, but it will defend Canada’s rights under the pipeline treaty to ensure “the continued and safe supply of energy to central Canada.”

Editor's note: Enbridge Energy is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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