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Judge Deals Blow To Michigan's Attempt To Shut Down Line 5

A judge in Michigan has sided with pipeline operator Enbridge in a case that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer pursues to have the Line 5 oil pipeline from Canada to the United States shut down.

Judge Janet Neff ruled this week that the case should be heard in a federal court, not in a state court as the Michigan Governor wanted.

This is the second time in several months that Judge Neff has sided with Enbridge over the long-standing dispute between the company and the state of Michigan over the pipeline. Line 5 carries crude oil and natural gas liquids across the Canada-U.S. border and the Great Lakes via a twin line that runs along the lake bed. 

In November 2020, 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 running the pipeline. The pipeline operator says that only a court and the U.S. federal government have authority to order Line 5 shut down.

Last November, the White House said it had no plans to shut down the pipeline.

Canada, which considers the pipeline indispensable for supply to Ontario and Quebec, last year sought bilateral negotiations with the United States over the future of Line 5.  

Now the judge ruled, again, that the Michigan-vs-Enbridge case on the pipeline belongs to federal jurisdiction.

"The Court reinforces the importance of a federal forum in deciding the disputed and substantial federal issues at stake, with uniformity and consistency," Judge Neff said in a written decision carried by Associated Press.  


By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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