Can The Governor Really Shut Down Line 5 On Her Own?
Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has long been a vocal opponent of the Enbridge Line 5 that lies on the Straits of Mackinac between the state’s upper and lower peninsulas. She pushed the issue to the forefront last week with an announcement that she was revoking access granted by an easement to shut it down. The state has been embroiled in a lawsuit against Enbridge over the oil and gas lines. Line 5 encompasses two separate pipelines. One carries oil. The other handles propane. The propane line is critical to maintaining a huge percentage of businesses and homes in the UP.
There have been some environmental scares involving line 5. One recent issue involved a passing freighter that was dragging an anchor on the floor of the Straits and by all accounts struck some retaining braces and potentially one of the lines. The incident adds all the more weight to the Enbridge plan to eventually scrap the exposed pipelines on the floor of the straits and dig a tunnel underneath the straits to house new pipelines to keep the critical flow of energy intact.
Environmentalists and many politicians think Michigan and Canada would be better off without the pipelines altogether and have vowed to close them down. That’s where Governor Gretchen Whitmer's most recent statement comes into play. Her announcement indicated she was canceling the easement that was granted by the state long ago to Enbridge for the lines. The announcement was heralded by environmental activists. Bridge Magazine reports on what hasn’t received much attention so far is that Michigan’s Attorney General simultaneously filed suit against Enbridge in Ingham County Circuit Court. The suit asks the Judge who has been handling related cases between the state and Enbridge to validate the Governor’s decision. In other words, this is far from over. The Governor does not have the final word. So far the Judge has ruled several times in favor of Enbridge over the disputed Line 5. Enbridge vigorously disputes the Governors move in a clear indication this will be another long drawn-out skirmish in the war over energy and the environment.