Governor's Office Releases Statement on Enbridge Federal Suit Against the State

November 24, 2020  

 Enbridge Lawsuit Against State Puts Great Lakes, Michigan Economy at Grave Risk  

LANSING, Mich.  – Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Communications Director Tiffany Brown issued the following statement on Enbridge Energy’s latest lawsuit against the State of Michigan, which will put the Great Lakes and Michigan’s economy at grave risk:  

“Governor Whitmer was elected to protect and defend the Great Lakes, which are vital to Michigan’s economy and support over 350,000 jobs. Today’s lawsuit filed by Enbridge brazenly defies the people of Michigan and their right to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill. In short, Enbridge claims it can continue to pump oil through the Straits of Mackinac indefinitely, posing enormous risk to our economy and way of life – and that the people of Michigan have no say in the matter. The company that spilled nearly one million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and made Michigan the home of the largest on-land oil spill in American history has again demonstrated it cares only about its bottom line.”  

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Enbridge Release: Enbridge files in Federal Court to block Michigan’s illegal actions against Line 5

CALGARY, AB and LANSING, Mich., Nov. 24, 2020 – Today Enbridge Inc. (TSX, NYSE: ENB) (Enbridge or the Company) 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 the operation of Line 5. 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. Enbridge is also today moving the complaint filed by the State against Line 5 on November 13 in Michigan state court to the Federal Court.

A federal agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), is Enbridge’s safety regulator, not the State of Michigan. In fact, only three months ago the safety of the Dual Pipelines was reviewed by our regulator and the Pipelines were found to be fit for service.  The State’s attempt to assume the role of safety regulator through its notice purporting to “terminate and revoke” the easement is improper and unlawful.

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Enbridge Files Suit in Federal Court to Prevent the State's Attempt to Shutdown Line 5

Enbridge has filed a federal complaint against the State of Michigan in the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Enbridge’s complaint asserts that the actions of the State in issuing a Shutdown Order directed against Line 5 on November 13 were in violation of federal law because:

  • The issuance of that order, which would effectively close Line 5 in its entirety, is expressly preempted under federal law, which prohibits states from enforcing their own pipeline safety standards. That is exactly what Michigan seeks to do through its Shutdown Order;
  • The Shutdown Order unconstitutionally interferes with interstate commerce by effectively closing a vital and irreplaceable interstate pipeline in violation of the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution; and
  • The Shutdown Order unconstitutionally violates the Foreign Commerce Clause and intrudes on the management by the United States of its Foreign Affairs by forcing the closure of an international pipeline, contrary to the purposes of international treaties entered by the United States. 

Additionally, Enbridge has filed a petition requesting the State’s easement case be moved from Michigan Circuit Court to federal court.

Enbridge is filing a petition to remove to the same federal court the complaint filed against it by the State on November 13 in the Circuit Court of Ingham County. Enbridge maintains that the Shutdown Order sought to be enforced by that complaint raises significant federal law questions that warrant litigation in a federal court.  These include:

  • The State’s Shutdown Order is based on the State’s enforcement of safety standards, which is prohibited by federal law. The Pipeline Safety Act, for example, bars states from enforcing safety measures for interstate pipelines.
  • The State’s Shutdown Oder is contrary to the treaties that the United States has entered with Canada, including notably the Transit Pipelines Treaty of 1977, providing for the unimpeded flow of petroleum products in pipelines linking the two nations, such as Line 5.   
  • The federal government’s “paramount” authority under the federal Submerged Lands Act over the regulation of interstate and international commerce that takes place on the bottomlands of navigable waters owned by the State. 

Click here to view the complaint. 

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Great Lakes Michigan Jobs Coalition Praises Challenge to the State's Action to Revoke Line 5 Easement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                       

Contact: Nick De Leeuw, Resch Strategies
November 24, 2020, 517-575-9564

Great Lakes Michigan Jobs Coalition Praises Legal Challenge to Protect Michigan’s Jobs, Lakes, Energy Supply

Move by Whitmer Administration to Shut Down Line 5 will Kill Jobs, Increase Energy Costs

Lansing, Mich – Members of the Great Lakes Michigan Jobs Coalition today applauded a move by Enbridge to protect Michigan’s jobs, the Great Lakes, and the state’s energy supply.  The company today filed a legal challenge to a recent move by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to revoke the easement allowing Line 5 to operate, and to shutdown the pipeline, killing thousands of jobs and sending energy prices soaring during a global pandemic.

“Good paying jobs are more important than ever in Michigan right now,” said Geno Alessandrini, business manager for the Michigan Laborers Union.  “Today’s court action is great news for Laborers who count on Line 5 and the Great Lakes Tunnel project for a paycheck and for affordable energy.”

Said Mike Alaimo, Director of Environmental and Energy Policy at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce"We're grateful today for the important steps being taken in court to protect Michigan's energy supply, and the access to affordable energy Michigan businesses and their employees count on.  Governor Whitmer's move to close Line 5 would devastate local communities who rely on the Line for jobs, for energy, and for millions in tax revenue.  Line 5 is safe, and there's a plan to make it even safer by burying it deep below the lakebed.   Instead of shutting the line down, let's build the Great Lakes Tunnel."

Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents support construction of the Tunnel, believe it’s the best solution for Line 5, and want the state to move forward immediately with permitting for the project, according to a poll conducted this autumn by TargetPoint Consulting.

The Great Lakes Tunnel will move a portion of Line 5 out of the water in the Straits of Mackinac and place it into a state-of-the-art tunnel buried deep below the lakebed, providing multiple layers of protection and, according to an analysis by the state of Michigan, make the chances of a leak into the Straits virtually zero.

“Governor Whitmer has no apparent alternative plan to replace the energy Line 5 provides,” said Mark Griffin, President of the Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores.  “We feel this is not only irresponsible during a pandemic, but another disservice to Michigan residents, hospitals and businesses.  The court action taken today by Enbridge is about fighting for more than just a pipeline. It’s a fight for Michigan’s families.”

Said John Dulmes, Executive Director of the Michigan Chemistry Council: “Today’s court action is a welcome step to protect Michiganders’ fuel supply and access to affordable energy for their homes and businesses.  An irresponsible shut-down would not only impact the price of gas and propane and the raw materials for countless everyday products, but would also strain the logistics needed to move critical goods throughout our state and region."

Said Mike Johnston, Vice President of the Michigan Manufacturers Association:Shutting down Line 5 would kill thousands of jobs in Michigan, and devastate the state’s manufacturing industry in the middle of a global pandemic.  Today’s court filings are about more than keeping Line 5 open.  They’re about protecting Michigan families’ access to affordable energy and good paying jobs.”

Leading Michigan voices from labor, business and industry formed the Great Lakes Michigan Jobs coalition, to back the Tunnel project, and to protect Michigan’s jobs, environment, and energy supply.

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Rep. Hoitenga responds to governor’s latest demand to shut down Line 5

RELEASE:November 18, 2020

State Rep. Michele Hoitenga, of Manton, today responded to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent order to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline by May 2021 – which carries 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily that Michigan families and business owners rely on.

“My family has worked in the oil and gas energy industry for many years,” Hoitenga said. “And I know firsthand that no one wants to keep our lakes safe more than the oil and gas industry. I have visited the facility many times and have full confidence they are taking every precaution to prevent any spill from harming our lakes.

“We have to quit obstructing these hard workers  – I have full faith that Enbridge will keep the line safe while moving forward with a modernized tunnel buried beneath the earth’s surface.”

Hoitenga said she hopes the governor will reconsider her order. In the meantime, she said she and the Legislature will continue to fight for Line 5 to remain open.

“If Line 5 were to be shut down, an additional 2,000 trucks a day would be required to travel on Michigan roads to transport the liquid in the pipeline now,” Hoitenga added. “This would be incredibly dangerous for our environment – much more so than keeping Line 5 open.”

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Find out who is offering takeout, delivery, and/or curbside service, brought to you by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association.

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MDHHS Issues New Restrictions to Fight Coid-19 Spread

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State Moves to Revoke Line 5 Easement for Violation of the Public Trust Doctrine

On June 27, 2019, Governor Whitmer directed the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to undertake a comprehensive review of Enbridge’s compliance with the 1953 easement for operation of Line 5 in the Straits. That review is now complete and State has determined that Enbridge has repeatedly violated the 1953 Easement and that the continued operation of the dual pipelines violates the state’s solemn duty to protect the Great Lakes under the public trust doctrine.

The notice requires Enbridge to cease operations of the dual pipelines in the Straits by May of 2021.

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Opening Day Aided by Michigan's Oil & Gas Industry

Michigan’s oil and gas industry has provided tremendous benefit to the state. From economic impact to jobs to energy, the benefits of a robust oil and gas industry are many. Well, add wildlife habitat to the list.

With Michigan’s annual firearms deer season on the horizon, many hunters will owe a debt of gratitude to Michigan’s oil and gas industry when they fill their tags on habitat created by oil and gas extraction. One of the most overlooked benefits of Michigan’s oil and gas industry is the fact that petroleum extraction and exploration has helped create access and varied habitat that’s ideal for deer hunting. Access to some of Michigan’s public lands has been made possible by the creation of roads and trails that were used to service and create oil and gas wells, particularly in northern Michigan. Just getting to your favorite spot is plenty of benefit – but the oil and gas industry should also be credited for creating some top-notch wildlife openings as well.

While it may seem that vast stretches of unbroken timber would be great for deer (and other wildlife), that’s simply not the case. The very best habitat for whitetails, as well as other game and non-game species, is habitat comprised of varying types. The openings created when wells are completed and restored provide exceptional habitat variety and well sites are carefully restored to benefit wildlife and to enhance the natural beauty of the areas they’re in.

Thanks to ever-evolving technology and processes, many hunters may be surprised to realize that one of their favorite forest openings is actually an active gas well. Modern wells take up very little space and the only evidence that a well exists a small PVC pipe protruding from the ground along with a series of small valves and gauges. These wells produce very little noise – odds are some hunters have hunted very near a working gas well and never even knew it.

Of course, some caution must be used when hunting near a well – as well as respect for private property. But this is a lesson not unlike when hunting near farm machinery or other personal property.

The Michigan Oil and Gas Association is proud of the work done by its members to improve Michigan’s habitat and wishes all of Michigan’s hunters a safe and enjoyable deer season. 

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MDHHS Issues New Workplace Safety Guidance

On November 6, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released new guidance for employers concerning workplace safety. The MDHHS guidance, issued with reference to the MIOSHA Emergency Rules, highlights the elements of a safe work environment, including:

  • Create a COVID preparedness plan that includes exposure determination procedures and details the measures that will be taken to reduce employee exposure
  • Establish clear workplace procedure that includes a COVID–19 coordinator, mandates face coverings, ensures access to PPE, and trains employees on procedures & social distancing
  • Conduct daily self–screening of staff working in person that includes assessments of symptoms of COVID–19 and excludes those who are symptomatic
  • Strengthen workplace cleaning / disinfecting procedures so that it is done as frequently as possible and can be enhanced if a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID–19
  • Collaborate with Local Health Departments so that they will have the information necessary to conduct contact tracing if an employee contracts COVID–19

Lastly, the guidance stresses the need to allow employees to work from home if possible in order to minimize the presence of individuals in areas where COVID–19 may spread more easily. Employers should only permit in-person work if a worker is unable to physically complete required job tasks from a remote setting, such as food service or auto assembly workers, or a job involving protected data that cannot be accessed remotely.

The MDHHS guidance “Keeping a Safe Workplace” can be found Here

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