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Federal judges side with Nessel, move Line 5 case back to state court

Line 5 marker in front of the Mackinac Straits
Teresa Homsi
A pipeline marker for Line 5 stands in front of the northern side of the Straits of Mackinac. In the background, the Mackinac Bridge is obscured by clouds.

A case that could shut down the Line 5 pipeline is moving back to state court.

Three federal judges announced Monday that Enbridge missed the 30-day window to move the case to a federal court by two years, siding with Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Nessel's lawsuit argues the 1953 Line 5 easement in the Mackinac Straits violates the public trust doctrine.

Nessel applauded the decision in a statement and said the lawsuit never should have left state court in the first place.

"The State has an obligation and imperative to protect the Great Lakes from the threat of pollution, especially the devastating catastrophe a potential Line 5 rupture would wreak upon all of Michigan," Nessel said.

"As we've long argued, this is a Michigan case brought under Michigan law that the People of Michigan and its courts should rightly decide."

In a written statement, an Enbridge spokesperson wrote the company is "disappointed" by the decision. The company said its "confident" in a separate case filed in a federal court.

"Enbridge seeks a determination by the federal court that the State of Michigan cannot seek to shutdown Line 5 based on safety concerns associated with Line 5’s routing through the Great Lakes," Ryan Duffy wrote.

Editor's note: Enbridge is a sponsor of WCMU. We report on them as we do with any other business.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
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