Enbridge Inc. obeyed a court order Thursday to shut off its 540,000 b/d Line 5 pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac until a hearing scheduled for Tuesday (June 30) on a Michigan state request for an injunction against resuming oil flows.
An Ingham County, MI, judge granted a temporary restraining order sought by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who embarked on a legal campaign to close the pipeline permanently as an environmental menace after she was elected in late 2018.
Fossil fuel foes called the order a victory, but Nessel rated it as only a short-term fix. She repeated her demand in tandem with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, also a Democrat, to remove Line 5 from the Straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
Enbridge Vice President Vern Yu described the order as a disappointment and added that the pipeline is safe. The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) supports the firm, Yu said.
“Enbridge will be providing the court with information it has requested relating to PHMSA’s approach to assessing the current situation with Line 5, including restart planning,” Enbridge management said in a statement.
A safety dispute that triggered the latest state legal move broke out after Enbridge won a verdict earlier this 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 continue by burying it in a $500 million utility tunnel.
The new round in the courtroom pipeline duel erupted last Monday after Enbridge restarted oil flows in one of two Line 5 pipes that were both shut off earlier this month as a precaution. An inspection found damage to an anchor support for one of the pipes.
“An extended shutdown of Line 5 would threaten fuel supplies in Michigan and Ohio,” Enbridge management said, “resulting in critical gasoline supply shortages and gasoline price increases for consumers in Michigan and the surrounding region.”
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