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Governor Whitmer takes legal action to force shut down of Enbridge’s Line 5

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

 Updated 2:38 p.m. to include statement from Enbridge Energy. 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer plans to revoke the easement the state granted in 1953 that allows Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 to cross the Straits of Mackinac.

The announcement came as the Department of Natural Resources released a review of Enbridge’s record over the 67 years the Line 5 dual pipelines have sat on the bottom of the Straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The DNR cited the Canadian pipeline company’s “historic failures and current non-compliance” as reasons to revoke the easement.

“The Notice concludes that Enbridge’s Line 5 is a grave and unreasonable risk to the state’s residents and natural resources and requires the pipeline to be shut down 180 days from now, on May 12, 2021,” a release from Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said.

A statement from the Governor’s office noted that this does not prevent Enbridge from continuing to pursue permits to construct a tunnel under the Straits to house a replacement Line 5 segment.

The governor’s office says six months gives Michigan time transition to other sources of energy. Line 5 supplies some of the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula with liquid propane.

Environmental groups are hailing the decision to revoke the easement.

The National Wildlife Federation called the decision “a historic win for the Great Lakes, wildlife, and climate action. The Michigan Environmental Council said in a statement that the Governor’s action “…will protect the Great Lakes and the more than 48 million residents in Michigan, Canada and the Midwest that depend on them for drinking water.”

In a statement, Enbridge said, "...there is no credible basis for terminating the 1953 Easement allowing the Dual Line 5 Pipelines to cross the Straits of Mackinac."

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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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