Judge retains jurisdiction in lawsuit over Enbridge pipeline

Aug 18, 2022, 2:21 AM | Updated: 5:49 pm
FILE - Nuts, bolts and fittings are ready to be added to the east leg of the pipeline near St. Igna...

FILE - Nuts, bolts and fittings are ready to be added to the east leg of the pipeline near St. Ignace, Mich., as Enbridge Inc., prepares to test the east and west sides of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac in Mackinaw City, Mich., June 8, 2017. A federal judge Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, kept jurisdiction over a lawsuit seeking to close the oil pipeline crossing a section of the Great Lakes, rejecting Michigan's effort to shift the case to state court. (Dale G Young/Detroit News via AP, File)

(Dale G Young/Detroit News via AP, File)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge Thursday kept jurisdiction over a lawsuit seeking to close an oil pipeline crossing a section of the Great Lakes, rejecting Michigan’s effort to shift the case to state court.

U.S. District Judge Janet Neff sided a second time with Enbridge Energy, which contends regulation of its Line 5 is a federal matter and federal courts should handle legal arguments about whether it should continue operating.

“The Court reinforces the importance of a federal forum in deciding the disputed and substantial federal issues at stake, with uniformity and consistency,” Neff said in a written decision.

Neff, based in Grand Rapids, reached the same conclusion last year after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed suit to enforce her order to decommission the 69-year-old pipeline. The judge’s ruling Thursday involved a separate 2019 case by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, also seeking a shutdown.

Line 5 is part of a network that moves Canadian oil and natural gas liquids used in propane to refineries in both nations. It extends 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario, crossing northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Whitmer and Nessel, both Democrats, agree with environmental groups and Indigenous tribes that a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) segment beneath the Straits of Mackinac poses an unacceptable spill risk to the waterway linking Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The governor demanded a shutdown in 2020, which the company, based in Calgary, Alberta, has rejected.

Enbridge is backed by the Canadian government, which invoked a 1977 treaty with the U.S. guaranteeing cross-border flow of oil and natural gas. The Biden administration is discussing the matter with Canadian officials.

Whitmer dropped her case after Neff retained jurisdiction. Now pending before the judge are Nessel’s suit and another filed by Enbridge to have the governor’s shutdown order dismissed.

Nessel is challenging a 1953 easement granted by Michigan to run a section of the pipeline across state-owned bottomlands, saying it violates common-law “public trust” doctrine requiring the state to protect Great Lakes waters.

Neff’s ruling criticized the attorney general for repeating arguments in favor of applying state law that the judge had rejected previously. It would be “absurd” to have one Line 5 case in state court and another in federal court, she said, accusing Nessel’s team of “gamesmanship … procedural fencing and forum manipulation.”

Spokesman Amber McCann said Nessel’s office was reviewing the decision and considering its options.

Nessel “remains steadfast in her commitment to protect Michigan’s natural resources from the potentially devastating impact of environmental disaster,” McCann said. “The department strongly disagrees with the judge’s mistaken characterization of both the law and the attorney general’s approach to this and related cases.”

In a statement, Enbridge said Neff’s ruling “underscores that the state’s attempts shut down this critical energy infrastructure raises important federal questions of interstate commerce, exclusive federal jurisdiction over pipeline safety and the serious ramifications for energy security and foreign affairs.”

The judge’s decision “unfortunately prevents the state court from hearing the merits of the case,” said Mike Shriberg, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s regional office. “While we disagree with the ruling, it doesn’t change that fact that Line 5 is a ticking time bomb for the Great Lakes and needs to be shut down immediately.”

Enbridge insists the underwater segment of Line 5, which consists of two parallel pipes, is in sound condition but wants to replace it with a new pipe that would be housed in an underground tunnel to be drilled beneath the straits. The company is applying for state and federal permits.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is developing an environmental impact study of the proposal, which could last several years. The Corps on Monday announced a 60-day comment period, with Lt. Col. Brett Boyle, commander of the Detroit District, promising an “open, transparent and public” process.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Dmytro, one of three men working a 12-hour night shift, loads coal into a boiler at a bakery in Kos...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: Ukraine bakery supplies bread for the front lines

KOSTIANTYNIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — Seemingly abandoned during the day, the damaged factory building in eastern Ukraine comes to life at night, when the smell of fresh bread emanates from its broken windows. It’s one of two large-scale bakeries left in operation in the Ukrainian-held part of the Donetsk region, most of which is under Russian […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Athletics bring 6-game losing streak into matchup against the Mariners

Oakland Athletics (56-102, fifth in the AL West) vs. Seattle Mariners (87-70, second in the AL West) Seattle; Sunday, 4:10 p.m. EDT PITCHING PROBABLES: Athletics: James Kaprielian (4-9, 4.43 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 91 strikeouts); Mariners: Robbie Ray (12-11, 3.58 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 209 strikeouts) FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Mariners -280, Athletics +227; over/under is 7 runs […]
1 day ago
Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector-turned-activist, holds a placard condemning North Korean lea...
Associated Press

S. Korean activists clash with police over anti-Kim balloons

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean activists say they clashed with police while launching balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda materials across the North Korean border, ignoring their government’s plea to stop such activities since the North has threatened to respond with “deadly” retaliation. Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector-turned-activist, said he his group had launched […]
1 day ago
FILE- A national library employee shows the gold Nobel Prize medal awarded to the late novelist Gab...
Associated Press

Nobel season is here: 5 things to know about the prizes

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The beginning of October means Nobel Prize season. Six days, six prizes, new faces from around the globe added to the world’s most elite roster of scientists, writers, economists and human rights leaders. This year’s Nobel season kicks off Monday with the medicine award, followed by daily announcements: physics on Tuesday, […]
1 day ago
FILE - Nobel Peace Prize laureate, East Timor bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo displays his certif...
Associated Press

UN, abuse survivor groups seek Vatican investigation of Belo

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The United Nations and advocacy groups for survivors of clergy sexual abuse are urging Pope Francis to authorize a full investigation of Catholic Church archives on three continents to ascertain who knew what and when about sexual abuse by Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, the revered independence hero of […]
1 day ago
Members of the election commission wait at a poling station in the Bosnian town of Banja Luka, nort...
Associated Press

Voting begins in Bosnia election, little expected to change

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Polls opened Sunday in Bosnia for a general election that is unlikely to bring any structural change despite palpable disappointment in the small, ethnically divided Balkan country with the long-established cast of sectarian political leaders. The election includes races for various levels of government that are part of one of the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Judge retains jurisdiction in lawsuit over Enbridge pipeline