Enbridge Inc. has won a procedural round in its defense of the 540,000 b/d Line 5 after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer attempted to shut the Canadian oil conduit’s dual-pipe crossing of the Straits of Mackinac.
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff of the Western District of Michian agreed with Enbridge that legal aspects of the dispute raise a “substantial federal question” that cannot be answered in state court, where Michigan sought to make its case.
“The scope of the property rights the state parties assert necessarily turns on the interpretation of federal law that burdens those rights, and this court is an appropriate forum for deciding these disputed and substantial federal issues,” Neff stated.
The court also accepted legal briefs from the Canadian government that supported Enbridge. The briefs explain Canada’s formal resort in October to a dispute resolution section in a 1977 pipeline treaty with the United States.
Enbridge sought the procedural ruling after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a request in state court to enforce an order by Whitmer to revoke the Line 5 route easement and shut down its oil flows as a menace to the Great Lakes.
Enbridge continues to seek approvals from the Michigan Public Service Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to bury Line 5 in a $500 million tunnel beneath the Straits.
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