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Biden Administration Will Not Shut Down Line 5 Oil Pipeline

The U.S. Administration will not shut down the Line 5 oil pipeline from Canada to the United States, which Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants closed, the White House said on Tuesday.

Line 5 operator Enbridge and the state of Michigan are in litigation over Michigan's withdrawal of the easement for the pipeline's operation, while Canada has officially invoked bilateral negotiations with the United States over the fate of the pipeline that brings oil and propane to the Midwest.

"We expect that both the U.S. and Canada will engage constructively in those negotiations. Canada is a close ally — a key partner in energy trade as well as efforts to address the climate crisis and protect the environment," Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing on Tuesday. 

"These negotiations and discussions between the two countries shouldn't be viewed as anything more than that and certainly not an indicator that the U.S. government is considering shutdown. That is something that we're not going to do," she added.

Last year in November, the Michigan Governor and the director of the state's Department of Natural Resources revoked Enbridge's easement for the operation of the twin Line 5 pipeline, citing repeated violations of the easement and the need to protect the Great Lakes.

Michigan's notice required Enbridge to cease operations of the pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac by May 12, 2021. Enbridge ignored the notice and has continued to operate the pipeline. The company says that only a court and the U.S. federal government have authority to order Line 5 shut down.

The issue with Line 5, which Canada considers a priority project, escalated last month after Canada invoked a 1977 pipeline treaty to seek bilateral negotiations with the United States over the future of Line 5. The Canadian government informed a Michigan court in October that it was invoking an article of the 1977 Treaty on transit pipelines by presenting to the United States, through diplomatic channels, a formal request for negotiations.

Now the White House says that a shutdown of Line 5 is not on the table for the U.S. Administration.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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