Judge Lands Major Victory In Pipeline Dispute

Recently, a federal judge delivered a major win to Canadian operator Enbridge Energy, namely when he ruled against the state of Michigan’s request to remand its lawsuit against the Line 5 pipeline from federal jurisdiction back to a state court.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff proclaimed that the Line 5 pipeline case fell well within the federal court’s jurisdiction. Neff rejected the state’s arguments, which asserted that since the lawsuit had been brought based upon state laws, then state courts should deal with the matter.

In addition, Michigan also argued that the federal law matters Enbridge referenced with regards to moving the case to federal court were “trivial” or insubstantial.

“The federal issues are far from ‘trivial,’ but [they] raise vitally important questions that implicate the federal regulatory scheme [regarding] pipeline safety and international affairs,” the judge declared.

Last November, Michigan issued a notice that revoked an easement for the Enbridge pipeline. The pipeline is responsible for carrying crude oil from Canada through Michigan’s borders, and the state subsequently sought injunctive relief through the court system to pause the company’s operations during the six-month period until the notice ultimately went into effect.

However, Enbridge successfully elevated the case to the federal court system, noting that Michigan’s move clearly violated interstate commerce clauses and the Constitution’s supremacy. The company also pointed out that the state’s actions violated a treaty between the United States and Canada regarding pipeline operations.

According to Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy, the case embodies both “federal and international law [issues],” which is why the case is now handled under the domain of the federal court.

“Line 5 is vital, critical infrastructure,” Duffy continued, adding that the pipeline “is operating safely [while] in compliance with all applicable laws.”

Nonetheless, the office of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has proclaimed its commitment to removing the Line 5 dual pipelines from the water “as quickly as possible,” per the Detroit News.

Currently, the Army Corps of Engineers is completing an environmental impact review pertaining to a replacement segment on the Line 5 pipeline.