Energy company Enbridge said it intends to ignore a demand from Michigan officials to shut down its controversial dual pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac, arguing the equipment poses no danger to the public.
Responding to a lawsuit from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state’s Department of Natural Resources seeking to end a decades-old easement, Enbridge Executive Vice President Vern Yu sent a letter to state officials saying there is no reason to cease operations.
The letter said Enbridge is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit and intends to adhere to an existing agreement with the state, under which a replacement pipeline would eventually be installed.
Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, and the Department of Natural Resources sued last November after revoking the 1953 easement for the dual pipelines, alleging a lack of compliance with safety standards.
The complaint filed in Ingham County Circuit Court sought a declaratory judgment that the easement was properly terminated and an injunction stopping Enbridge from operating the twin pipelines.
Enbridge has struggled to maintain a safe environment for the pipelines in recent years. In April 2018, the lines were struck and dented in three different locations when an anchor was accidently dropped and dragged by a commercial vessel. In June of last year, Enbridge announced they were damaged again by anchors or cables deployed by nearby vessels that chipped away at pipeline coatings. Four of the five vessels potentially responsible for the impacts were operated by Enbridge’s own contractors.
In June 2019, Whitmer directed the Department of Natural Resources to undertake a review of Enbridge’s compliance with the 1953 easement. The completion of that review triggered the notice and lawsuit.