FILE - This July 19, 2002, file photo, shows the Mackinac Bridge that spans the Straits of Mackinac from Mackinaw City, Mich. Supporters and opponents of a proposed oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Great Lakes channel are making their case to federal officials. The Army Corps of Engineers hosted an online public hearing Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, on Enbridge's application for a permit. The Canadian pipeline company wants to drill a nearly 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) tunnel through bedrock under the Straits of Mackinac that would house a replacement for twin pipes that have run along the bottom of the waterway connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan for 67 years.(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Enbridge rejects Michigan’s demand to shut down oil pipeline

Enbridge rejects Michigan’s demand to shut down oil pipeline

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Enbridge said Tuesday it would defy Michigan’s demand to shut down an oil pipeline that runs through a channel linking two of the Great Lakes, contending that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision was based on bad information and political posturing.

The Democratic governor in November moved to revoke a 1953 state easement that allowed part of the Canadian company’s Line 5 to be placed along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. Saying Enbridge had repeatedly violated the terms and put the lakes at risk, Whitmer gave the company 180 days — until May 12 — to turn off the flow.

Enbridge filed a federal lawsuit challenging the order shortly after it was issued. Vern Yu, president for liquids pipelines, gave a point-by-point-response to the state’s termination notice in a letter Tuesday and said it wouldn’t close Line 5.

“Our dual pipelines in the straits are safe, fit for service and in full compliance with the federal safety standards that govern them,” Yu said.

Mike Koby, vice-president of U.S. operations for the Calgary, Alberta-based company, said Whitmer had overstepped her authority. Enbridge has “no intention of shutting down the pipelines based on these unspecified allegations,” Koby said in an interview.

Dan Eichinger, director of the state Department of Natural Resources, described the letter as “Enbridge’s attempt to power-wash the company’s long history of violating the terms of the 1953 easement, and their current non-compliance.”

“Enbridge cannot unilaterally decide when laws and binding agreements apply and when they do not,” Eichinger said. “We stand behind our efforts to protect the Great Lakes, and we stand behind the substance of the November 2020 revocation and termination of the Easement.”

Line 5 is part of Enbridge’s Lakehead network, which carries oil and liquids used in propane from western Canada to refineries in the U.S. and Ontario. The pipeline moves about 23 million gallons (87 million litres) daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario, traversing parts of northern Michigan and Wisconsin.

The underwater section beneath the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, is divided into two pipes that Enbridge says are in good shape and have never leaked.

Whitmer, however, agrees with environmentalists, Native American tribes and other critics who contend they’re vulnerable to a catastrophic spill.

Enbridge reached an agreement with then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, in 2018 to replace the underwater portion with a new pipe that would be housed in a tunnel to be drilled beneath the straits.

The company is seeking state and federal permits for the $500 million project, which is not affected by the shutdown order.

Whitmer’s order said granting the easement in a busy shipping lane vulnerable to anchor strikes was a mistake and Enbridge had made things worse, repeatedly violating a requirement that the pipelines rest on the lake bed or have other supports at least every 75 feet (22 metres).

The company also has failed to ensure that protective coating hasn’t worn off and has allowed the pipes to bend excessively in some places, the order said.

In his response, Yu said problems with pipeline supports and coating had been fixed years ago and that Enbridge had taken numerous steps to prevent contact with vessel anchors after one was dragged over the pipelines in April 2018.

The allegation about bending appears to have been based on the state’s flawed reading of data that could have been cleared up if officials hadn’t refused to discuss technical issues over the past two years, he said.

“The governor’s notice is actually based on inaccurate and outdated information that ignores the current condition of the dual pipelines” that federal regulators have described as safe, Koby said. He accused the state of bias, adding that “for the governor this is a political issue, pure and simple.”

John Flesher, The Associated Press

Enbridge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have ratified a new agreement, averting a strike. (File photo from Facebook)
Alberta gov’t ‘using pandemic as shield to lay off workers,’ says AUPE

The Government of Alberta’s “attacks on workers” is continuing with a new… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP, EMS, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance and Alstrom Helicopters worked together to rescue a fallen ice climber Friday. (Photo contributed by Rocky Mountain House RCMP)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP help rescue fallen ice climber

Rocky Mountain RCMP helped assist a fallen ice climber Friday afternoon. At… Continue reading

Students Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says she’s pleased the college is offering students a choice to attend class in-person or remotely. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Red Deer College winter term enrolment dips

Enrolment down about six per cent but mix of online and in-person instruction is going over well

Brett Salomons, of Salomons Commercial, and Mark Jones, CEO of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, in the CACAC's new temporary home. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s One Day Challenge returns

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre has announced its One Day Challenge is… Continue reading

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

A Suncor logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Thursday, May 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Body of worker whose bulldozer fell through ice on inactive tailings pond recovered

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Oilpatch giant Suncor says the body of a… Continue reading

A restaurant manager in Orlando used a sign to secretly ask an 11-year-old boy if he needs help from his family after they were spotted withholding food from him. (Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department)
WATCH: Restaurant manager uses secret note to ‘rescue’ child, says Orlando Police

The manager of an Orlando restaurant is receiving praise from police after… Continue reading

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will cripple struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

VICTORIA — A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Quebec and Ontario, the two provinces hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,… Continue reading

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A young snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged mountain trail on Vancouver's north shore Thursday has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snowshoer dies after overnight search on Vancouver-area mountain: RCMP

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged… Continue reading

nunavut
‘It was joyous:’ Sun returns to some Nunavut communities for first time in weeks

IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier… Continue reading

People take photos through the extensive security surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, ahead of the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh
Less pomp, very different circumstances as D.C. prepares to inaugurate Biden, Harris

WASHINGTON — Some pomp. Very different circumstances. Inauguration day is supposed to… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) and Nikolaj Ehlers (27) defend against Jansen Harkins (12) during scrimmage at their NHL training camp practice in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Winnipeg Jets cancel practice due to possible COVID-19 exposure

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have cancelled their practice today due to… Continue reading

Most Read