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Attorney General Nessel’s Line 5 Appeal Draws Broad Support at Federal Court from States, Tribal Governments, Business Leaders and Environmental Advocates

LANSING – Last week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed her Brief on Appeal in the Enbridge Line 5 case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Nessel is asking the Sixth Circuit to order that the case seeking to shut down the aging and dangerous oil pipeline be sent back to state court, where it was originally filed and litigated for over a year.

Attorney General Nessel argues that the case should be handled in state court. Enbridge originally agreed, and it litigated the case there for over a year. The state court agreed with Nessel that Line 5 needed to be temporarily shut down after being struck by anchors or similar objects. Only after the state court ruled in Nessel’s favor and ordered the pipelines shut down did Enbridge decide that it would prefer to litigate the case in federal court, more than 2 years past the deadline.

Attorney General Nessel argues that Enbridge’s removal of the case to federal court was both late and improper. The federal trial court agreed that the Federal Court of Appeals should review this question. The Court of Appeals granted Nessel permission to appeal in July.

Attorney General Nessel’s position has drawn broad support. Today, Amicus Briefs (also known as “friend of the court” briefs) in support of Nessel’s position were filed by 12 states and the District of Columbia, 63 Tribal and First Nations, the Great Lakes Business Network (a network of over 200 businesses that rely on the Great Lakes including Bell’s Brewery, Patagonia, and Cherry Republic), and an environmental group committed to protecting the Great Lakes known as For Love Of Water.

“I am grateful for the support of this extraordinary coalition of citizens, businesses, and governments,” Nessel said. “It is encouraging to know that so many share my concern about protecting the Great Lakes. The Line 5 pipelines are a ticking timebomb that has already been struck by anchors or other objects on multiple occasions. It is unfortunate that Enbridge has been able to delay this lawsuit for three years with procedural gamesmanship, but I am hopeful that the Sixth Circuit will send this case back to state court where it belongs, and where it can be promptly decided.”

With Nessel and supporting Amici having filed their briefs, Enbridge is allowed to file a response by October 18. Nessel then has 21 days to reply. Once briefing is concluded, the Court of Appeals will either hold oral argument or simply decide the case based on the briefs.


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