Enbridge seeks federal jurisdiction over pipeline dispute

Enbridge Energy moved Wednesday to federal court a lawsuit against Michigan seeking to shut down an oil pipeline that runs below a channel connecting two of the Great Lakes

The Canadian company argued that a 2019 lawsuit filed by the Attorney General in state court Dana Nessel should be heard by U.S. District Judge Janet Neff, who last month retained jurisdiction over a separate lawsuit initiated by Enbridge aimed at keeping oil flowing through their Fifth Street.

Spokesman Ryan Duffy said: “We hope that the attorney general will agree that it is more appropriate for her case and Enbridge’s case to be decided by federal court rather than the risk of duplicate litigation and termination. inconsistent results.

But Nessel said the “excessive action” violates a federal rule that transfers from one court to another must be done within 30 days of the first filing.

“We will address this blatant attempt to undermine that process in court and remain fervently committed to the belief that the fate of Michigan’s greatest natural resources should be determined,” Nessel said. in a Michigan court.

Enbridge’s game is the latest twist in a years-long political and legal battle over Route 5, which transports some 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily between Superior, Wisconsin and Sarnia, Ontario

It passes through northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and is part of the Enbridge network that transports Canadian crude oil to refineries in both countries.

A 4-mile (6.4 km) stretch is divided into two pipelines that cross the bottom of Mackinac Strait, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. Environmental groups and indigenous tribes say they are at risk of spills that could contaminate hundreds of miles of water and shorelines, while Enbridge says they have never leaked and are in good condition. .

Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer In November 2020, Enbridge ordered Enbridge to close the 68-year-old line, revoking the state’s 1953 mitigation agreement allowing it to be located in the strait. The company, based in Calgary, Alberta, filed a federal lawsuit and ignored the Democratic governor’s May 12 closure deadline.

Nessel, who had sued in state court to enforce Whitmer’s order, urged Neff to return the case to state court. But last month, the judge ruled that the case was brought “correctly in federal court” because it raised issues “under consideration at the highest levels of government in this country.”

These include Canada’s reference to a 1977 treaty with the United States relating to oil shipments between the two countries and federal pipeline safety regulation, Neff said.

Whitmer and Nessel responded this month by dropping the 2020 lawsuit and refocusing attention on the 2019 lawsuit filed in Michigan’s Ingham County. It argued that 5th Street’s presence in the strait violated public trust and state environmental laws.

The judge, James Jamo, scheduled a status hearing for January 7.

Enbridge said in a statement that the two cases are similar and belong to the same court. The company said federal law allows a defendant to refer a case from state court to federal court within 30 days of receiving “clear and certain information” that action may be taken. perform.

Neff’s November 16 ruling “provided solid information based on this and the case has now been dropped for further proceedings before federal district court,” the company said.

Nessel objected to Enbridge’s interpretation of the rules.

“Our residents deserve more than a company seeking to profit from our natural resources, while also trying to evade legal scrutiny for their actions against our natural resources,” she said. their actions. Enbridge seeks federal jurisdiction over pipeline dispute


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