Line 5 shutdown shows Enbridge violated laws

By Friday, oil from Line 5 will no longer pump under the Straits of Mackinac, protecting the Great Lakes and the ecologies, economies and people that thrive because of them. 

Ingham Circuit Court Judge James Jamo granted a request by Attorney General Dana Nessel to temporarily close the pipeline until more information on damage it sustained is revealed.

Last week, Canadian oil company Enbridge reported damage to Line 5’s support system, yet continued operation of one of its two pipes.

While the shut-down is not permanent, the legal ramifications posed could have a resounding effect, said Sean Hammond, policy director for Michigan Environmental Council. Judge Jamo stated Enbridge was in violation of its duties to the state outlined in its 67-year-old easement.

“The decision made by Judge Jamo is clear: Enbridge violated its duties to the state of Michigan under the 1953 easement and prevented the state from protecting the public trust,” Hammond said. “Line 5 must cease operation in order to truly protect the Great Lakes and people from it. We can do that by ending the easement.”

The person with the ability to do so? Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

"We thank Attorney General Nessel for filing this suit to ensure Line 5 is shut down temporarily,” Hammond said. “Now, Gov. Whitmer must act and end the easement. We cannot risk another Enbridge oil spill.”

Oil & Water Don’t Mix sites that Enbrige is responsible for 15 Line 5 oil spills and the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history, a 2011 Kalamazoo River catastrophe. Line 5’s location at the bottom the Straits makes a spill especially threatening. 

“The risk of harm to the Great Lakes and communities and business that rely on the Great Lakes would be substantial, but also in some respects irreparable,” said Jamo in his ruling, speaking of a potential oil spill due to Line 5 damage.


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