Deliveries were given the green light to resume by one of two pipes in Enbridge Inc.’s 540,000 b/d Line 5 across the Straits of Mackinac after a Michigan court refused to grant a demand for an immediate ban against all the oil flows from Western Canada.
Ingham County Court Judge James Jamo let the pipeline’s west leg reopen by amending a restraining order issued in late June. He postponed a verdict on Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s request for an injunction against operating either of Line 5’s pipes, east or west.
Based on the amended court order, “we will conduct an inline inspection tool run on the west segment and share our findings with the state,” management said. “Enbridge will now begin safely restarting the west segment and anticipates operations will soon return to normal.”
Jamo directed both sides of the case to file a progress report on Tuesday (July 7).
Michigan officials would have access to all the information on Line 5’s condition provided to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
The safety dispute erupted when Enbridge restarted Line 5’s west leg on June 20 after a two-day closure. Both pipes were shut off two days earlier as a precaution when an inspection detected a faulty lake-floor pipe anchor on the east leg, which remains closed for repairs.
The safety quarrel is the latest episode in a feud since Nessel was elected in 2018 on a Democratic platform that vowed to dismantle Line 5 as a menace to the Great Lakes. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, also a Democrat, rode the same political promise into office.
The latest state legal move broke out after Enbridge won a verdict last month from the Michigan Court of Appeals. The verdict rejected a request by Nessel to overturn a mid-2018 agreement with Michigan’s previous Republican administration to allow Line 5 to remain by burying it in a $500 million utility tunnel.
“We remain willing to work with the state going forward to address issues of concern about the safety of Line 5 and its ultimate replacement with the Great Lakes Tunnel that will contain a new section of pipeline,” Enbridge said after the ruling by Jamos.
Whether the tunnel eventually will be built is unknown. The Michigan Public Service Commission has rejected an Enbridge request to start work immediately and scheduled contested hearings to begin on Aug. 24.
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