Enbridge asks U.S. judge to grant motion to shut down Michigan pipeline

Enbridge asks U.S. judge to grant motion to shut down Michigan pipeline

WASHINGTON - Lawyers for Enbridge Inc. are asking a judge in Michigan to consider the bilateral implications of the state s bid to shut down the Line 5 cross-border pipeline.

Newly filed court documents say the dispute is now well and truly a federal matter because Canada has invoked a 1977 pipeline treaty with the United States formally.

Enbridge is arguing that as a result, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff should grant its original motion to have the case moved to federal court.

The 68-year-old Line 5 can carry as much as 540,000 barrels of crude oil and natural gas liquids per day under the Great Lakes to markets throughout the U.S. Midwest.

Gretchen Whitmer wants it shut down for fear of a catastrophic spill in the Straits of Mackinac, an ecologically sensitive waterway that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Enbridge, which has warned such a move would have dire consequences for energy consumers in both countries, says it will not shut down the line voluntarily.

Now that the dispute resolution provisions of the treaty have been formally invoked — resulting in more formal diplomatic negotiations and potentially an international arbitration regarding Michigan s unilateral efforts to force closure of Line 5 — this development should be part of the record, lawyers for Enbridge argue.

In the motion they are seeking leave to file, they say Michigan s claims have directly and significantly affected U.S. foreign relations with Canada. A court-sanctioned mediation process, which began in April, has failed to yield any agreement and appears to have fallen apart, although the official status of those talks remains unclear.

Court documents show Enbridge has no desire to continue with the mediation process, while Michigan wants the talks to continue.