TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan judge has handed a victory to a company seeking to build a tunnel that would house a Great Lakes oil pipeline.
Judge Michael Kelly of the Michigan Court of Claims ruled Thursday that the state Legislature did not violate the Michigan Constitution last year by approving a deal between former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and Enbridge Inc.
The agreement calls for shutting down Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, a channel linking Lakes Huron and Michigan. A replacement pipeline would run through a tunnel to be constructed beneath the lake bottom.
Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel contends the 2018 law authorizing the deal was unconstitutional because it went beyond what was reflected in its title.
Kelly disagreed, saying the title adequately reflected the law’s intentions.
Statements regarding the decision can be found below.
Enbridge said, "We are pleased that the Michigan Court of Claims ruled in our favor. We are reviewing the decision and may have further comment. Enbridge remains fully committed to the Great Lakes Tunnel project."
"We continue to believe the tunnel is the best solution for Michigan and that Line 5 can continue to be safely operated during the period while the tunnel is being constructed. And we are committed to build it," Enbridge continued.
Attorney General Nessel said, "We appreciate Court of Claims Judge Michael Kelly’s quick decision as this case moves forward through the court system. We have always anticipated that this matter would be resolved in the appellate courts and we are more resolved than ever to continue this fight on behalf of the people of Michigan."
"In fact, we recently learned that Enbridge Energy Partners L.P. seriously misrepresented its financial holdings when it made its deal with the Snyder Administration. In the event of a catastrophic oil spill, the people of the state of Michigan could be left holding the bag for more than a billion dollars in unfunded liability."
"The findings are included in a 120-page report – ‘An Analysis of the Enbridge Financial Assurances Offered to the State of Michigan’ – prepared by American Risk Management Resources Network."
"The most chilling finding of the report specifically states that any ‘contribution of funds under an indemnity agreement made with a subsidiary would appear to be a purely voluntary endeavor for Enbridge, Inc.’"
“We will appeal this decision. The State of Michigan will not rely on a foreign corporation to protect and preserve our state’s most precious resource, its Great Lakes.”
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox said, "I applaud today’s decision which upholds Michigan law and pushes back against an abuse of executive power. Since taking office, Dana Nessel and Gretchen Whitmer have abused their power to push their progressive political agendas, instead of defending the laws of our state. I hope that they accept this ruling, and that construction can begin soon on a project which will bring jobs to Northern Michigan and help protect our Great Lakes."
State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) said, "I am grateful for Judge Kelly’s decision. The law was clearly passed in a normal and bipartisan order after years of work, and the case and attorney general ruling against it were always specious.
"The energy corridor tunnel is the logical solution to keeping Line 5 open while helping to protect the Straits of Mackinac by removing the chance of a spill or leak in the straits."
“This decision ensures millions of Michiganians’ access to a much-needed energy supply, while protecting thousands of jobs, goods and services that rely on it from reckless political gamesmanship. Further, it means a $500 million investment made to Michigan’s energy and communications infrastructure in a generational project.”