Gov. Whitmer moves to shut down Line 5

Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer moved to revoke Enbridge's easement to use the bottomlands under the Straits of Mackinac for their dangerous oil pipeline. This is huge news for protecting our world class Great Lakes from catastrophic oil spills.

Nathan Murphy

You may have missed some huge news last week. Gov. Whitmer announced she was revoking Enbridge’s 1953 easement agreement with the State of Michigan for their use of the bottomlands under the Straits of Mackinac to run their dangerous oil pipeline. She scheduled the shut down for May of 2021 to allow the Upper Peninsula to continue to get propane shipped through the pipeline this winter for heating. This falls on the heels of her committing Michigan to carbon neutrality by 2050.

You can check out the above Detroit News link for more information. I want to cover a couple potential questions. One is, could Enbridge still move ahead with their proposed pipeline? In theory yes, and they’ve said they’ll continue with the permitting process. But, remember how Environment Michigan members spoke out to the Public Service Commission asking for a review of the wrong-headed tunnel idea? That case is now before the PSC, and one of the things they look at is whether a proposed project is necessary. If the pipeline is shut down, and as several studies suggest, the effects on Michiganders is minimal, then it becomes very hard for Enbridge to claim the pipeline (and tunnel) is needed.

Another question is won’t Enbridge fight this in court? I think the answer is a clear yes. They’ve already said they’ll continue the tunnel permitting, and taking Michigan to court would be another step they’d need to take. But, people with a lot more legal knowledge than me are saying the revocation rests on pretty good grounds legally and they believe the revocation clearly shows Enbridge never lived up to the safety agreements in the original easement. There are too many unsupported spans of pipeline, and in places the pipes curve too much. That’s just the start of it.

The fight will continue, and Environment Michigan and our members will continue to engage to protect our Great Lakes. We owe it to future Michiganders.


Nathan Murphy