Michigan Governor and Attorney General Lay Groundwork for Protecting Great Lakes from Line 5 Oil Spill

LANSING, MI – Today, Attorney General Nessel released her highly anticipated opinion concerning Public Act 359, the law that would pave the way for Enbridge Energy to build an oil tunnel through the Straits of Mackinac. PA 359 was introduced after the November election and passed during the 2018 lame duck session. The law attempted to amend the Mackinac Bridge Authority to create a Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA), which would theoretically build and own a tunnel through the Straits to house Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.

“We applaud Attorney General Nessel’s opinion, which recognizes the numerous constitutional flaws with PA 359, and rejects the backroom deal made by the MSCA and Enbridge Energy,” said Mary Brady-Enerson, Michigan Director for Clean Water Action. “For the first time in years, we have an Attorney General who believes in representing the people of Michigan and protecting our public trust waters, instead of protecting polluting industries.”

Attorney General Nessel’s legal analysis concluded that there are many fatal flaws in PA 359, which was passed in haste and was not properly vetted by lawmakers or legal staff. Her legal opinion carries weight with state agencies and will likely serve to guide the Whitmer administration’s actions regarding the future of the Line 5 pipeline. The Attorney General further concludes that because of the flaws in PA 359, the subsequent agreements made between MSCA and Enbridge are also void.

In accordance with the Attorney General’s opinion, Governor Whitmer has ordered all state agencies to pause any ongoing permitting or other work regarding Enbridge’s rapidly deteriorating Line 5 pipeline.

“Based on the Attorney General’s opinion, we believe the path forward is clear,” said Sean McBrearty, Michigan Program Organizer for Clean Water Action. “The time is now for Governor Whitmer to move forward with approving a propane back-up plan for Upper Peninsula residents and revoking Enbridge’s easement from 1953 that allows them to operate Line 5 through the most sensitive part of the Great Lakes. We also applaud Governor Whitmer’s prudent decision to pause any ongoing processes between the state and Enbridge in regards to Line 5. It is a great day for Michigan. We finally have leaders who are willing to put our Great Lakes and drinking water above the profits of corporate polluters.” 

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Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. Clean Water Action is Michigan’s largest grassroots conservation group with over 250,000 members across the state. Through direct advocacy and education we organize Michigan residents to protect the Great Lakes and our water resources.

Sean McBrearty
616-516-7758
Michael Kelly
202.895.0420x103
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