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State, DNR wants Enbridge to promise it will cover costs of potential oil spills

Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichenger made the request Friday in a letter to the Canadian company.
(NBC15)
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 3:14 PM EDT
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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP/WLUC) - The state of Michigan wants Enbridge Energy Company Inc. to promise it will cover costs from a potential oil spill in the channel that links two of the Great Lakes.

Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichenger made the request Friday in a letter to the Canadian company.

According to a DNR release, the agency wants Enbridge to “enter into a written agreement with the state of Michigan to provide financial assurances to cover all damages and losses caused to property or individuals due to operation of the Line 5 dual pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac.”

An Enbridge subsidiary pledged in 2018 to set aside about $1.8 billion to deal with a worst-case spill from its Line 5 pipes in the Straits of Mackinac. But the state says the subsidiary doesn’t have enough money to fulfill that promise, and it’s not clear that the parent company is bound by the pledge.

A spokesman says Enbridge is reviewing the state’s request but has made clear it would pay for damages if Line 5 ruptures, which the company says is highly unlikely.

In a release sent to TV6, the Sault Tribe in Sault Ste. Marie said the tribe is in support of the state’s request.

Sault Tribe Chairperson, Aaron Payment, said, “I am pleased that Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel have taken this first step to hold Enbridge accountable. The next step is to lead in changing the self-regulatory status of an oil pipe that threatens our natural resources. Our retained treaty rights are meaningless if our fish populations are eradicated.”

Copyright 2020, The Associated Press, WLUC.

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