Windsor

Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline still operating despite Michigan governor's shutdown deadline today

The Line 5 pipeline continued to operate despite today's Michigan deadline for Calgary-based Enbridge to shut it down as governments continue the long legal process. The mayor of Sarnia, Ont., end destination for the petroleum, told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning a shutdown would be a "catastrophe."

Mayor says pipeline's fate could 'hang over' Sarnia, southwestern Ontario for months or years

In Sarnia, Ont., thousands of jobs are directly and indirectly connected to the Line 5 pipeline, according to those advocating against its possible shutdown. (Sue Reid/CBC News)

Despite Michigan's deadline today for Enbridge to shut down Line 5, the Calgary-based company's pipeline continues to operate amid a dispute involving governments on both sides of the border.

An Enbridge spokesperson confirmed operations Wednesday have not been impacted.

Line 5 goes through the Straits of Mackinac, which separate Lakes Michigan and Huron. The nearly seven-decade-old pipeline carries petroleum from Western Canada through Wisconsin and Michigan, and ends at refineries in Sarnia, Ont.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said he's while he was confident that the pipeline wouldn't be shut down on Wednesday amid mediation efforts, he's concerned the issue may be hanging over his region for months or years.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley wants Enbridge's Line 5 continued operations to protect the economy in southwestern Ontario and other areas. (Facebook)

Bradley, who joined CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Wednesday, said a closure of the pipeline would result in thousands of job losses and have other repercussions, including increased costs for energy. The pipeline helps deliver nearly half of the supply of light crude oil, light synthetic crude oil and natural gas liquids in Ontario and Quebec.

"It's not just Sarnia. It's a catastrophe here because of the jobs that would be impacted, but it ripples," said Bradley.

If the continued operation of Line 5 isn't upheld through the court process, Bradley says he'll call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appeal to U.S. President Joe Biden directly.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called the pipeline a "ticking time bomb" and wants it shut down citing environmental concerns. In November, she revoked the 1953 easement for the pipeline in setting a May 12 shutdown deadline.

There has been support for Whitmer's efforts on this side of the border, including from environmental groups and Indigenous leaders.

Enbridge, which says the pipeline is safe, is looking to build a $500-million tunnel beneath the straits it says would protect the twin lines.

The company took Michigan to U.S. Federal Court, and the parties were ordered to find a resolution through mediation. They are scheduled to meet again May 18.

Whitmer says Enbridge operating at 'own risk'

The Democratic governor has issued a letter telling Vern Yu, Enbridge's executive vice-president for liquids pipelines, that continued operation of the line "constitutes an intentional trespass" and the company would do so "at its own risk."

The Line 5 pipeline carries Canadian petroleum from Western Canada and Wisconsin, though Michigan to Sarnia. (CBC)

If the state's litigation is successful, Whitmer said Enbridge would face the prospect of "having to disgorge to the state all profits it derives from its wrongful use of the easement lands following that date."

Enbridge argues Michigan has no authority to order the shutdown because the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration oversees interstate pipelines.

Canada files 'friend of the court' document

On Tuesday, the federal government announced it has filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) document defending the pipeline against Whitmer's shutdown order.

Letters have also been sent by industry groups, the attorneys general of Ohio and Louisiana, and unions.

"This broad support underscores that efforts by the State of Michigan to shutdown Line 5 have far reaching and severe implications across the region and North America — well beyond Michigan's borders," Yu said in a release on Wednesday.

With files from Windsor Morning, CBC News, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now