November 17, 2021
Federal District Court Judge Janet Neff issued a ruling yesterday regarding Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s revocation and termination of the 1953 Easement that allowed Enbridge to operate dual oil pipelines across the lakebed of the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Michigan. The ruling concluded that Whitmer’s action implicates significant federal issues, thus allowing the case to remain in federal court. After Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit in Michigan circuit court asking for a judge to confirm the governor’s authority to revoke and terminate the easement, Enbridge “removed” it to federal court, arguing that Gov. Whitmer’s actions to protect Michigan’s natural resources violated federal laws.
Enbridge’s efforts to move this important state case to federal court have delayed the shutdown of a ticking time bomb in the Straits of Mackinac
ELPC, on behalf of other Great Lakes environmental organizations and the Great Lakes Business Network, filed an amicus brief in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan on March 30, 2021. We urged the federal court to remand the state lawsuit back to state court because it should be state – not federal – courts that determine whether the state’s exercise of its sovereign authority under the public trust doctrine was appropriate. The obligation of the state to protect those resources held in public trust, like our Great Lakes, are enshrined in the Michigan Constitution, and it should be Michigan courts that interpret its own state constitutional protections.
“Enbridge’s efforts to move this important state case to federal court have delayed the shutdown of a ticking time bomb in the Straits of Mackinac,” said ELPC Senior Attorney Margrethe Kearney. “Regardless of the forum, Gov. Whitmer’s revocation and termination of the 1953 Easement should be upheld. Her strong action in support of the Great Lakes is supported by state law and not prohibited by any federal law or treaty.”