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Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge scored a point in its battle with Michigan legislators to keep the Line 5 crude oil pipeline running. A state court has ruled in favor of Enbridge, allowing the pipeline to stay where it is, passing under the Straits of Mackinac.
Reuters reports that the court ruled an agreement Enbridge had struck with previous Governor Rick Snyder was valid, allowing the company to build a tunnel under the Straits for the pipelines that pass through that section in stead of having to move them as the current legislature of Michigan has insisted.
The previous legislature of Michigan approved Enbridge’s project for replacing a section of the Line 5 pipeline last December, just before the new lawmakers came into power. Republican Governor Snyder was quick to sign the agreement into law in a bid to prevent the incoming Democrats from stopping the project.
As part of the agreement, Enbridge agreed to pay between US$350 and US$500 million for the construction of a tunnel for the pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac where Lake Huron meets Lake Michigan. The project could take between seven and 10 years to complete.
Yet the Democrats did not just drop their plans to stop the Line 5 replacement. In march this year, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered the suspension of all work on the tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac, after an opinion by the state’s new Attorney General, Dana Nessel, who said the bill that allowed the construction of the tunnel violated the state constitution because “it went beyond what the bill’s title reflected.”
Then the state filed a lawsuit against Enbridge at a county circuit court arguing that the company’s operation of the pipeline under a 1953 easement was in violation of the public trust doctrine. Now, the state Attorney General has said the government would appeal the court’s ruling.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.