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Nessel Files Motions After Enbridge Discloses Damage to Line 5 Pipeline

LANSING – Today, Attorney General Dana Nessel filed motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction related to Enbridge’s disclosure late last week of significant damage to an anchor support on the east leg of the Line 5 oil pipeline. Line 5 lies open on the floor of the Straits of Mackinac pumping nearly 23 million gallons of oil each day through two aging pipelines in the heart of the Great Lakes. The motions were filed in the parties’ ongoing case, Nessel v Enbridge Energy LP, et al., Case No. 19-474, currently pending before the Honorable James S. Jamo, in the Ingham County Circuit Court. 

Enbridge reported the damage on Thursday, June 18, shutting down both the east and west legs for inspection. In a June 19th letter, Governor Whitmer asked Enbridge to provide the State with all of the information in its possession about the damage, including pictures, video, and engineering reports. The Governor requested that all digital information be provided within 24 hours of her request. 

Enbridge not only failed to provide the requested information but on June 20, 2020, the company unilaterally reactivated the west leg of the pipeline without even providing the State with an opportunity to first discuss it.   

In response, Governor Whitmer sent another letter to Enbridge requesting that it immediately shut down the pipeline until the matter could be investigated, assessed and preventive measures put in place. The Governor also requested a full report from Enbridge as to the cause of the damage and the measures Enbridge would put in place to prevent the harm from happening in the future. Once the state, or a third party selected by the state, has reviewed the information, the Governor advised Enbridge a discussion would occur as to when normal operations could resume. 

Enbridge didn’t provide any information on the damage until earlier today, when it sent brief reports on the east and west legs of the pipeline. Only a few pages long, the reports contained little content, few pictures, and left several critical questions unanswered, including the cause of the damage. 

“It is evident by the pictures we’ve seen that there has been significant damage to an anchor support on the east leg of the pipeline. To date, Enbridge has provided no explanation of what caused this damage and a woefully insufficient explanation of the current condition and safety of the pipeline as a result of this damage,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “We cannot rely on Enbridge to act in the best interests of the people of this State so I am compelled to ask the Court to order them to.”  

In her motion, the Attorney General asks the Court to order Enbridge to provide all of the information in its possession related to the nature, extent and causes of the newly-discovered damage to Line 5. She also requests that the Court order that operations of the pipeline be suspended until the State of Michigan has conducted a full review of the information provided with the assistance of independent experts.  

“The State deserves to see all of the information in Enbridge’s possession about this significant incident and to independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the information provided,” Nessel said. “I will continue to use all the resources at my disposal to protect Michiganders from companies with an incentive to prioritize their own profits over the safety and well-being of our residents.” 

The filed documents are available below:  

Motion for temporary restraining order.

Brief in support of motion for temporary restraining order.

Motion for preliminary injunction.

Brief in support of motion for preliminary injunction with exhibits.