No Intention to Shut Down Michigan Pipelines, Enbridge Says to State

Enbridge responded to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's attempt to terminate an easement and thereby close Enbridge's Line 5 dual pipelines, saying the lines in the Straits “are safe and in full compliance with the federal pipeline safety standards that govern them,” according to a letter from Enbridge Executive Vice President and President, Liquids Pipelines, Vern Yu.

Vern Yu, Enbridge Executive Vice President and President, Liquids Pipelines
Vern Yu, Enbridge Executive Vice President and President, Liquids Pipelines

The state issued the notice Nov. 13 to terminate the easement that has been in place since 1953, Enbridge said in a news release.

Line 5 enables the safe transport of fuel to heat homes and provides energy to Michigan, neighboring U.S. states and Canada's two largest provinces, the company said.

“Both lines were reviewed and approved for operation by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) back in June and September of 2020,” the release states.

Yu said Enbridge has no intention of shutting down the pipelines based on the state's unspecified allegations and its violation of federal law.

The company requested the United States District Court dismiss Michigan's action in that the revocation of the easement is contrary to federal law and that pipeline safety resides with the federal Pipeline Safety Act and its enforcement is the responsibility of an expert federal agency.

"The notice ignores scientific evidence and is based on inaccurate and outdated information," Yu wrote of the state's action.

The company said repeated offers by Enbridge over the past year to meet with state officials to discuss pipeline issues of concern to the state, provide technical information and discuss matters that might be helpful to the state's review of the easement were consistently ignored and dismissed.

In his letter, Yu wrote the state acted unlawfully in issuing the notice to revoke and terminate the 1953 easement by attempting to upend federal jurisdiction.

Enbridge's response further underscores that the governor and the DNR director cannot disregard Michigan laws authorizing the original 1953 easement and the replacement tunnel, nor displace PHMSA, the federal agency responsible for the safety of interstate pipelines. The company, consistent with the past, is offering to meet with the state to resolve any differences.

"In the meantime, the dual pipelines will continue to operate safely until they are replaced on completion of the Tunnel Project," Yu wrote.

To view Yu's letter, click here.

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