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Court Returns Line 5 Pipeline Case to Michigan

The Sixth Court of Appeals ruled against Enbridge in a case regarding its Line 5 pipeline and ordered the case returned to a Michigan court.

The court battle between the state of Michigan and Enbridge has been going on for years, with Michigan seeking to shut down the pipeline and Enbridge resisting the attempt at court. Now, the state could get an advantage after the appeals court ruled Enbridge had missed a deadline to move its case from a state court to a federal one, Michigan Public reported.

“The State has an obligation and imperative to protect the Great Lakes from the threat of pollution, especially the devastating catastrophe a potential Line 5 rupture would wreak upon all of Michigan,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

“As we've long argued, this is a Michigan case brought under Michigan law that the People of Michigan and its courts should rightly decide,” she added.

The battle began in November 2020, when 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 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 in 2021 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.

Since then, the case has been dragging over jurisdiction, which now returns to Michigan courts.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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