An aboveground section of Enbridge's Line 5 at the Mackinaw City, Mich., pump station is shown in October 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, John Flesher

Michigan abandons Line 5 challenge to focus instead on 2019 state court lawsuit

Michigan abandons Line 5 challenge to focus instead on 2019 state court lawsuit

WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has abruptly abandoned her federal court case aimed at shutting down the cross-border Line 5 pipeline.

Instead, Attorney General Dana Nessel says Whitmer will concentrate the government’s efforts on a long-standing state court action against pipeline owner Enbridge Inc. that was originally filed in 2019.

In a statement, Nessel says the original case remains the “quickest and most viable path” towards getting Line 5 permanently decommissioned.

Michigan’s efforts suffered a blow earlier this month when a U.S. District Court judge sided with Enbridge and allowed Whitmer’s case to remain in federal court.

Last November, Whitmer revoked the 68-year-old easement that allowed Enbridge to operate the line, fearing an environmental catastrophe in the Straits of Mackinac, where Line 5 crosses the Great Lakes.

The National Wildlife Association cheered the decision to abandon the court case, calling Line 5 a “ticking time bomb” and supporting Nessel’s motion to reopen the 2019 action.

“We’ve had enough of this Canadian corporation and the Canadian government itself tying up Michigan’s efforts to protect our Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill,” regional executive director Mike Shriberg said in a statement.

“Line 5 is a ticking time bomb and this move to cut through Enbridge’s legal delay tactics is the best way to move forward to protect the Great Lakes.”

Nessel said she and Whitmer remain “aligned in our commitment” to shut down the pipeline, “and this dismissal today will help us advance that goal.”

“I fully support the governor in her decision to dismiss the federal court case and instead focus on our ongoing litigation in state court,” Nessel said. “The state court case is the quickest and most viable path to permanently decommission Line 5.”

Canada said earlier this month that planning was “well underway” for bilateral treaty talks between Canada and the U.S. in the dispute.

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