Nessel doesn’t appeal Line 5 tunnel decision to Supreme Court

By: - July 31, 2020 9:32 am

Susan J. Demas

Attorney General Dana Nessel will no longer pursue one of her legal fights against Canadian oil company Enbridge, while another continues on.

Nessel had originally pledged to appeal the latest ruling in Enbridge v Nessel to the Michigan Supreme Court, after a Court of Appeals panel ruled on June 11 that Enbridge’s plan to replace the controversial Line 5 dual pipeline with an underwater tunnel-encased pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac is constitutional.

The deadline to file a notice of appeal regarding the June 11 decision was Thursday, but no appeal was filed.

“We have not appealed the ruling and do not have a comment to offer due to ongoing litigation against Enbridge,” Nessel spokesperson Courtney Covington said in an email Thursday.

Court of Appeals rules Enbridge tunnel deal is constitutional

Ryan Duffy, a spokesperson for Enbridge, said Friday: “The Appeals Court decision confirmed that Act 359 is constitutional and that Enbridge’s agreements with the State of Michigan are valid and enforceable. 

“This includes the Tunnel Agreement and the Third Agreement, which allows for Enbridge to continue to operate the Dual Pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac while a tunnel to house a replacement section of Line 5 is permitted and constructed.”

Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder signed the agreement-encompassing law in 2018 shortly before he left office. The legislation was written in a way that was meant to tie the hands of the incoming Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer administration, as both she and Nessel had pledged on the campaign trail that they would seek to decommission Line 5.

Geno Alessandrini is the business manager for the Michigan Laborers Union and a member-spokesman for Great Lakes Michigan Jobs coalition of business and labor groups backing the Line 5 tunnel.

Enbridge: Boat anchor, wire cable may have caused Line 5 damage

“Michigan workers are counting on the Great Lakes tunnel,” he said. “Building the tunnel is something Republicans and Democrats can agree on, and a project the courts have repeatedly upheld. We’re pleased the state’s challenge to the project’s constitutionality is behind us, and Michigan Laborers are eager to move forward with construction.”

Thursday’s decision to cease challenges to Enbridge’s lawsuit against the state closes one chapter in Nessel’s legal spar with the company. But Nessel’s countersuit against Enbridge, filed shortly after it sued the state last June, remains ongoing in an Ingham County Circuit Court.

The east leg of Line 5 currently remains shut down under court order as federal regulators investigate damage to a support anchor.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.