Enbridge sues Michigan over Line 5 easement revocation

Dec. 7, 2020

Enbridge Inc. has filed a federal complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan seeking an injunction to stop the State of Michigan from taking any steps to prevent operation of Enbridge’s 540,000-b/d Line 5 liquids pipeline. Enbridge said that the attempt to shut down Line 5 interferes with the comprehensive federal regulation of pipeline safety and burdens interstate and foreign commerce in clear violation of federal law and the US Constitution.

The company also moved a complaint filed earlier this month by the state against Line 5 in Michigan state court to the Federal Court. The state filed the complaint seeking an injunction and declaratory order backing up Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision the same day to revoke the pipeline’s easement (OGJ Online, Nov. 16, 2020). In the state’s notice, Gov. Whitmer gave Enbridge 180 days to stop shipments through the pipeline.

In filing its complaint, Enbridge described the state’s “attempt to assume the role of safety regulator through its notice purporting to ‘terminate and revoke’ the easement as improper and unlawful.” The company went on to say that “a disruption of Line 5 would create a propane shortage, higher energy prices, and hardship for Michigan families, especially those on fixed incomes or of modest means. It would also result in a daily shortage of over 14 million gal. of gasoline and other transportation fuels, impacting the entire region.”

As it travels 4.5 miles under the Straits of Mackinac, the 30-in. OD Line 5 splits into two 20-in. parallel pipelines. It supplies 65% of propane demand in the Upper Peninsula, and 55% of Michigan’s statewide propane needs, according to Enbridge. Line 5 transports light crude oil, light synthetic crude, and NGLs, which are refined into propane.