Enbridge Inc. has responded to an attempt by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to terminate an easement that has been in place since 1953 and, if successful, close Enbridge's Line 5 dual pipelines located in that easement.
Line 5 enables the safe transport of fuel to heat homes and provides energy to Michigan, neighboring U.S. states and Canada's two largest provinces.
In a letter responding to the State's November 13 notice, Vern Yu, Enbridge Executive Vice President and President, Liquids Pipelines, wrote, "Our dual lines in the Straits are safe and in full compliance with the federal pipeline safety standards that govern them."
Both lines were reviewed and approved for operation by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) back in June and September of 2020.
Yu further stated that Enbridge has no intention of shutting down the pipelines based on the State's unspecified allegations and its violation of federal law.
The company has requested that the United States District Court dismiss the State of Michigan's action in that the revocation of the easement is contrary to federal law and that pipeline safety resides with the federal Pipeline Safety Act and its enforcement is the responsibility of an expert federal agency (PHMSA).
"The Notice ignores scientific evidence and is based on inaccurate and outdated information," Yu wrote of the State's action.
Repeated offers by Enbridge over the past year to meet with State officials to discuss pipeline issues of concern to the State, provide technical information and discuss matters that might be helpful to the State's review of the easement were consistently ignored and dismissed, the company states. Consequently, the State made its claim on ill-informed, inaccurate, out of date and unsupportable opinion.
In his letter, Yu wrote that the State acted unlawfully in issuing the Notice to revoke and terminate the 1953 easement by attempting to upend federal jurisdiction.
Enbridge's response further underscores that the Governor and the DNR Director cannot disregard Michigan laws authorizing the original 1953 easement and the replacement tunnel, nor displace PHMSA, the federal agency responsible for the safety of interstate pipelines. The company, consistent with the past, is offering to meet with the State to resolve any differences.
"In the meantime, the dual pipelines will continue to operate safely until they are replaced on completion of the Tunnel Project," wrote Yu.
Residents, businesses and refineries throughout Michigan, other Great Lakes states and Canada's two largest provinces - Ontario and Quebec - rely on the safe transportation of oil, propane and other product through the dual pipelines. Enbridge stated that it looks forward to continuing to provide this critical source of energy while focusing on plans to construct the Great Lakes Tunnel as another measure to enhance safe operation of the dual pipelines.