The Michigan Court of Claims ruled in favor of Enbridge Energy on Thursday, effectively reinstating a controversial deal the company had with former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Current Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit against the company earlier this year seeking to have Line 5 decommissioned as soon as possible.
Line 5 is a 30-inch pipeline that runs for 645 miles from Wisconsin to Ontario, under the Straits of Mackinac, according to Enbridge’s website. It currently supplies 65 percent of home in Michigan’s upper peninsula with heat.
Enbridge originally had an agreement with Snyder that called for it to construct and pay for a $500 million tunnel under the Straits that would hold Line 5 and other utilities. The tunnel would then be handed over to a state oversight panel.
Attorney General Dana Nessel overturned the agreement after deeming the deal based on an unconstitutional law, claiming the legislation transferring power over to the state had significant amendments, and it did not follow a part of the Michigan Constitution dictating a bill can only have one object, which should be expressed in the title.
The ruling made Thursday by Judge Michael Kelly effectively reinstates the deal Enbridge had with Snyder and rejects Nessel’s arguments.
“We appreciate Court of Claims Judge Michael Kelly’s quick decision as this case moves forward through the court system,” said Nessel in a statement. “We have always anticipated that this matter would be resolved in the appellate courts and we are more resolved than ever to continue this fight on behalf of the people of Michigan.”
Nessel also said Enbridge “seriously misrepresented its financial holdings” and there is a risk the state could be left paying to clean an oil spill.
“In the event of a catastrophic oil spill, the people of the state of Michigan could be left holding the bag for more than a billion dollars in unfunded liability,” Nessel said.
Some support the judge’s decision, however.
“We are extremely pleased with Judge Kelly’s ruling that PA 359 of 2018, legislation passed to facilitate construction of a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, is constitutional,” said Jim Holcomb, executive vice president and general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce in a statement. “The facts are clear that the legislature understood exactly what they were voting on and that all procedural steps in passing the law were consistent with the Constitution.”
Nessel said the state plans on appealing the decision.
“The State of Michigan will not rely on a foreign corporation to protect and preserve our state’s most precious resource, its Great Lakes,” Nessel said.
– – –
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]