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White House: No plans to shut down Line 5

work being done under Mackinac bridge

The Biden Administration says it has no plans to shut down Enbridge Energy’s Line 5, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre saidduring a press conferenceon Tuesday.

Jean-Pierre says the U.S. and Canada will begin negotiations over the pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac after Canada invoked a 1977 treaty to resolve pipeline disputes on behalf of Enbridge, a Canadian company.

Jean-Pierre called Canada a “close ally and key partner” to the United States, and the administration expects negotiations to be “constructive.”

“These negotiations and discussions between the two countries shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than that, and not an indicator the U.S. government is considering shutdown,” Jean-Pierre said. “That is something we’re not going to do.”

Canada invoked the treaty in the midst of a legal battle between the energy company and the state of Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have sued Enbridge to shut the pipeline down. The case is currently stalled in federal court, after attempts at mediation failed. Enbridge ignored a state order to cease operations in May, and the state’s position is that the company is now trespassing by failing to shut down the pipeline.

Enbridge wants to build a tunnel around a replacement section of Line 5 instead. Jean-Pierre noted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently conducting an environmental impact study on that proposal, stressing that’s separate from the issues surrounding the “current pipeline.”

Governor Whitmer’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Jean-Pierre’s statement.

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

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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