On Thursday June 25, Ingham County Circuit Judge James S. Jamo granted Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s motion for a temporary restraining order requiring Enbridge Energy to cease all transport operations of its Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.
The move follows an incident which allegedly damaged an anchor support on the pipeline.
“Enbridge is disappointed in the court’s ruling as we believe that Line 5 is safe,” stated Vern Yu, Executive Vice President and President of Liquids Pipelines in a June 25 press release on Enbridge’s website. “However, the west leg of Line 5 has been shut down.”
The court issued a temporary restraining order requiring Enbridge to shut down Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac within 24 hours until a hearing on Michigan’s request for preliminary injunction can be held Tuesday June 30, and a ruling made on the preliminary injunction.
In a statement from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Press Secretary Tiffany Brown, she stated, “Enbridge’s decision to continue pumping crude oil through the Straits of Mackinac with so many unanswered questions was reckless and unacceptable. Enbridge owes a duty to the people of Michigan and must answer to the state for how it treats our Great Lakes. The governor will continue working to keep our water safe.”
According to Enbridge, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has regulatory oversight of the pipeline’s operations and fitness for service and Enbridge will be providing the court with the information it has requested relating to PHMSA’s approach to assessing the current situation with Line 5, including restart planning for the west leg.
“Inspections have determined that the west segment of Line 5 crossing the Straits is safe for operations and which PHMSA did not object to restarting,” said Yu. “We had shut down the east segment of the pipeline pending a review of a disturbance that was discovered on one of the screw anchors and an assessment of the east leg’s fitness for service.”
Larry Bell, of Bell’s Brewery and co-chair of the Great Lakes Business Network, which opposes Line 5 said, “This is a tremendous statement from the judge in support of protecting the Great Lakes, and the businesses and communities that rely on keeping them clean and oil-free. The Great Lakes Business Network applauds the strong action of the attorney general, and we hope to see Governor Whitmer bringing the full force of her office to join Attorney General Nessel in permanently revoking this easement.”
The business network’s other co-chair Juliette King McAvoy, of King Orchards in Antrim County, said, “This is good news for protecting northern Michigan businesses from the devastating effects of an oil spill. The fact that a newly permitted anchor support appears to have failed due to a poor design indicates the pipeline should no longer be allowed to operate in that location.”
The Michigan League of Conservation Voters also supports the order.
“Today, Enbridge Energy was held accountable in the court of law for its blatant defiance of our state leaders and reckless disregard for the safety of our Great Lakes,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “We are grateful for Attorney General Dana Nessel’s swift and decisive action following recent significant damage to the pipeline and Enbridge’s subsequent defiance of state officials. The fact of the matter is this pipeline is inherently dangerous and Enbridge Energy cannot be trusted to even provide basic information about its condition, let alone operate it safely.”
She added, “It’s time for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to revoke Enbridge’s easement agreement with the state and shut down Line 5 once and for all.”
Enbridge says an extended shutdown of Line 5 would threaten fuel supplies in Michigan and Ohio resulting in critical gasoline supply shortages and gasoline price increases for consumers in Michigan and the surrounding region.