From Michigan Tribes to Biden: Enbridge Line 5 Threatens Our Treaty Rights

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Gravelle’s comments come as anti-Line 5 activists launch a lobbying campaign on the Biden administration to counter diplomatic pressure from Canada. On Tuesday morning, the Oil & Water Don’t Mix anti-pipeline coalition delivered tens of thousands of petitions to US Senator Gary Peters’ office, asking the Democratic Senator to forward them to Biden.

Legal disputes over the fate of Line 5 have been going on for years, but have intensified since Enbridge defied Whitmer’s orders in May to shut down the pipeline. Whitmer, who campaigned for the office on a pledge to shut down Line 5, argued that the risk of an aging Line 5 oil spill is too great to tolerate.

Attorney General Dana Nessel backed up the order with a lawsuit, which prompted Enbridge to file a counter action. Both sides are now awaiting a ruling from United States District Court Judge Janet Neff on where the case should be heard. Michigan wants to sue in state court, while Enbridge wants to keep it in federal court.

In a legal brief last week citing the 1977 treaty, a lawyer for Canada argued that Neff should stay the case until the two countries can negotiate the dispute. Nessel fired back, calling Canada’s concerns “irrelevant.”

A spokesperson for the US State Department said the agency was “aware” of Canada’s invocation of the treaty and “we expect the United States and Canada to engage in such a manner. constructive in these negotiations ”.

The spokesperson did not respond to questions about tribes’ treaty concerns.

Speaking at Tuesday’s press conference, coalition members pointed to an October 2 oil spill in California as evidence of the dangers posed by submarine pipelines like Line 5.

This spill, which released tens of thousands of gallons of oil off the coast of Huntington Beach, “should be instructive for all of us,” said Sean McBrearty, campaign coordinator for the anti-Line 5 Oil & Water coalition Don’t mix. “A Line 5 spill could be orders of magnitude worse. “

Line 5 transports up to 540,000 barrels of petroleum products per day between Superior, Wisconsin and Sarnia, Ontario, pipelines crossing the Straits of Mackinac on their journey through Michigan. It has been struck by ship anchors on several occasions, including an incident last year that resulted in a temporary pipeline shutdown after Enbridge discovered “significant damage” to one of the two undersea spans. of the pipeline.

Enbridge maintains that Line 5 is safe and that it has invested heavily in monitoring and safety initiatives designed to prevent a spill.

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