Pipeline fighters throughout the Midwest are celebrating the announcement on Friday, Nov. 13 by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel that she had filed a lawsuit to #ShutDownLine 5. Though Nessel filed a suit in June 2019 to shut down Line 5 (which also passes through Northern Wisconsin), this is the first time that she has done so on behalf of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the MI Department of Natural Resources.
The Governor has terminated the 1953 easement that the State of Michigan granted Enbridge, the Canadian company with a vast network of crude oil pipelines in North America, to lay its pipelines on the submerged public lands in the Straits of Mackinac. In her Easement Revocation Notice, Gov. Whitmer cited Enbridge’s numerous violations of the easement, and the Public Trust Doctrine, which says that the State of Michigan “is obligated to protect and preserve the waters of, and lands beneath, the Great Lakes.”
Attorney General Nessel said, “Simply put, Michigan law requires that the pipelines be shut down and the Notice provides a timely and orderly process for achieving that.” The Notice requires that the 2 20” pipes that currently lie along the bottom of the Straits be shut down by May 12, 2021. For that to happen, a judge must agree with the Governor’s conclusions. This article analyzes the legal fights ahead and says that Gov. Whitmer “has the upper hand.”
The Governor’s action is a huge victory for the many Michigan groups and coalitions who have been fighting Line 5 since 2013. The 350 Madison/Sierra Club of WI Tar Sands Team will continue to collaborate with them, applying pressure to make sure that Line is shut down before an ecological tragedy occurs. Meanwhile, we continue to organize opposition to a proposed new segment of Line 5 in Ashland and Iron Counties.
Here’s an easy way you can support the struggle to #ShutDownLine5! Visit this action page of the Michigan coalition “Oil and Water Don’t Mix,” and submit a public comment to the Army Corps of Engineers, urging them to deny Enbridge a permit to build a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac to house Line 5. You can use their sample comment or write your own. For more info on why a tunnel would be a disaster, click here.