A 1977 pipeline treaty between Canada and the United States is being invoked by Canada in order to prevent closure of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline, which has been in operation under the Straits of Mackinac for the past 68 years.
On Monday, Gordon Giffin, legal counsel for the Canadian government, issued a letter to the U.S. Western District of Michigan Federal Court on Monday, according to a news report by Reuters. In the letter, Giffin noted the 1977 treaty prohibits Michigan and/or the U.S. government from disrupting the operation of Line 5, and asked U.S. District Judge Janet Neff to delay issuing an opinion to allow treaty negotiations between the Canada and the United States to proceed.
Article II of the treaty reads: “No public authority in the territory of either Party shall institute any measures, other than those provided for in Article V, which are intended to, or which would have the effect of, impeding, diverting, redirecting or interfering with in any way the transmission of hydrocarbon in transit.” Article V specifies “an actual or threatened disaster, operating emergency or other demonstrable need” as reasons to shut down the internationally operated pipelines.
A new report challenges efforts conducted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration and Attorney General Dana Nessel to not only shut down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac but prevent its replacement with a $500 million tunnel 100 feet below the lake bed.
The report also challenges 14 recommendations published last April by the Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force, a group established by the governor and chaired by Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark.
The head of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources has asked Enbridge to sign an agreement to cover all losses that might ensue should the company’s dual Line 5 pipeline fail in the Straits of Mackinac.
DNR Director Dan Eichinger sent a letter Friday to Enbridge Executive Vice President and President, Liquid Pipelines Veron Yu seeking a written agreement “to provide sufficient financial assurances to cover any loss, including a catastrophic release from the dual pipelines.”
A Michigan judge Wednesday allowed Enbridge to resume pumping oil through a Midwestern pipeline, nearly a week after shutting it down because of damage to a structure that anchors a section of the line running through a Great Lakes channel.
Enbridge’s Line 5 moves crude oil and liquids used in propane from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, passing through parts of Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. A four-mile-long (6.4-kilometers-long) segment divides into two pipes that cross the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lakes Huron and Michigan.