July 1, 2020
LANSING – After a lengthy hearing Tuesday on Attorney General Dana Nessel’s motion for a preliminary injunction related to the recently discovered damage to Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac, Ingham County Circuit Court ordered continued restrictions on the operation of Line 5 and required Enbridge Energy to promptly and fully disclose all relevant information and data to the State.
Judge James S. Jamo’s order amends the temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by the Attorney General’s office and issued by the Court on June 25. The new TRO temporarily prohibits Enbridge from operating the east leg of twin pipelines that comprise Line 5 until the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration (PHMSA) completes its investigation of the matter, and until Enbridge provides the state and PHMSA necessary information, completes any needed repairs and until further order by the court.
Damage to the east leg of Line 5 was reported to State officials June 18, which caused Enbridge to shut down both lines, but it then unilaterally reactivated the west leg on June 20 without alerting the State.
Today’s court order also allows Enbridge to restart the west leg for the purpose of conducting an In Line Inspection (ILI) of that pipeline, and requires Enbridge to provide the results on the area of interest to the State and the Court within seven days of restarting operations of that line. The order also requires Enbridge to provide all other information requested by the State.
“Today’s Court decision allows the State to receive the vital information surrounding this incident that we need to complete an informed analysis of the damage and evaluate the threat this pipeline poses to our environment if left to operate in its current state,” Nessel said. “A breach of the Line 5 pipeline or a similar incident would result in devastating consequences for a wide range of industries and countless Michiganders. The long-term risk this pipeline poses to not only Michigan, but the Great Lakes region, cannot be taken lightly."
The Court based its decision on the grounds argued by the Attorney General – the requirements of the 1953 easement mandating that Enbridge at all times exercise the “due care” of a reasonably prudent person for the safety and welfare of all persons and of all public and private property.
The Court stated that today’s order would remain in effect until it issues a full opinion and order on the Attorney General’s motion for preliminary injunction, which seeks continued suspension of the pipeline operations until certain conditions are met.