TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took legal action Friday to shut down a pipeline that carries oil beneath a channel linking two of the Great Lakes.
Whitmer's office notified Canadian company Enbridge Inc. that it was revoking an easement granted 67 years ago to extend a roughly 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) section of the pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac. The revocation takes effect in 180 days, when the flow of oil must stop.
“Enbridge has routinely refused to take action to protect our Great Lakes and the millions of Americans who depend on them for clean drinking water and good jobs,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. "They have repeatedly violated the terms of the 1953 easement by ignoring structural problems that put our Great Lakes and our families at risk.
“Most importantly, Enbridge has imposed on the people of Michigan an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that could devastate our economy and way of life.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit Friday to carry out Whitmer's decision. Another pending case that Nessel filed last year targets the pipeline as a public nuisance.
Enbridge said there was “no credible basis” for Whitmer's action.
“Line 5 remains safe, as envisioned by the 1953 Easement, and as recently validated by our federal safety regulator," said Vern Yu, the company's president for liquids pipelines.
Line 5 is part of Enbridge's Lakehead network, which carries oil from western Canada to refineries in the U.S. and Ontario. The pipeline moves about 23 million gallons (87 million liters) daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario, traversing parts of northern Michigan and Wisconsin.