The Democratic attorneys general of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and California filed a brief in support of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s effort to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 oil and gas pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.
Nessel filed a lawsuit in June in Ingham County Circuit Court that seeks an order to decommission the underwater pipeline. The lawsuit argues that Line 5 violates the public trust doctrine, is a common law public nuisance, and breaks the Michigan Environmental Protection Act “because it is likely to cause pollution impairment and destruction of water and other natural resources.”
Enbridge plans to build $500 million worth of new lines surround by a tunnel to protect the straits in the event of an oil spill. The project was approved under an agreement reached last year with former Gov. Rick Snyder. In a separate case, Nessel called the Snyder administration’s agreement with the oil company unconstitutional, but Michigan Court of Claims Judge Michael J. Kelly recently ruled in favor of Enbridge.
“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,” Nessel said of Kelly’s ruling.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed an amicus brief in support of Nessel’s lawsuit to decommission the pipeline.
The brief argues that the public trust doctrine “universally applies to submerged lands beneath navigable waters, and confers upon the states permanent and un-diminishable authority over those lands.”
“The amici have an interest in preserving their long-standing authority over submerged lands, and they submit this memorandum in support of Michigan’s argument that there has been no federal preemption of the public trust doctrine in this case,” the brief adds.
According to a press release from Nessel’s office, Enbridge argues that federal law “preempted the states from protecting their bottomlands and navigable waters.”
“It is rare to have the amicus support of other state attorneys general in a state case but the attorneys general for two of our fellow Great Lakes states and the state with one of the longest coastlines in the country clearly recognize the severity and the magnitude of this issue and the important role states play in protecting the public trust,” Nessel said in a statement. “We are grateful that the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and California Attorneys General have joined forces with us to put the protection of our freshwater lakes over corporate profit.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Enbridge Line 5” by SHUT DOWN ENBRIDGE LINE 5/Coalition Challenging the Straits Sunken Hazard.