Enbridge continued operating its Line 5 oil pipeline through the environmentally ultra-sensitive Straits of Mackinac, defying an order by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to shut down the pipeline. The Canadian pipeline company’s defiance of the order is a dramatic development in a long-running showdown between it and Michigan. Enbridge, which is also seeking to build the controversial Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, said it would halt operations if a court told it to do so. Whitmer’s office said the continued operation of the pipeline constitutes “intentional trespass” and that the state of Michigan will seize all profits Enbridge makes from operating the pipeline after the May 12 deadline.
Earlier this week, Bay Mills Indian Community tribal council voted to banish Enbridge’s Line 5 pipelines from the reservation, citing the Treaty of 1836, which they say guarantees them the permanent right to hunt and fish in the territory.
The Line 5 pipeline (actually two pipelines, both 20 inches in diameter and nearly 20 years beyond their intended 50-year lifespan) moves about 23 million gallons of crude oil per day from western Canada to refineries in the U.S. and Ontario and lays beneath a major shipping lane where it is vulnerable to anchor strikes that could devastate the entire Great Lakes system. In addition to the environmental risks posed by the Line 5 pipeline, Whitmer’s office said the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline “shows the danger of relying on a single energy supply” and emphasized expanding the state’s renewable energy resources. (Detroit Free Press, Earther, AP, Michigan Live, Detroit News, The Guardian, WXYZ, OilPrice, UP Matters, 9and10 News; Political and international implications: New York Times $, E&E $; Bay Mills banishment: Indian Country Today; Canadian press: The Globe and Mail, CBC, CTV News)