News Story

23 Michigan House Democrats Buck Whitmer, Nessel On Line 5 Pipeline

Up-north residents who depend on pipeline to heat their homes are concerned

The Michigan House of Representatives has approved a resolution favoring “the timely issuing of permits for the construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel Project,” which has been opposed by environmental activists. The project will replace a gas and oil pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac (called “Line 5”) with a new concrete tunnel buried in bedrock.

The resolution passed 80-28, with 23 of 51 House Democrats voting in favor of it.

State of Michigan environmental regulators could delay the tunnel project by not issuing permits, and many northern Michigan residents have expressed concern because they rely on gas from the pipeline to heat their homes in winter.

It unusual to see 46% of the House Democratic caucus join all but one Republican to support a project that has been criticized by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and even more so by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, also a Democrat.

WKAR reported that Enbridge, the pipeline’s owner, briefly shut down both legs of the Line 5 crossing on the weekend of June 20 after some damage was discovered during an annual inspection. Enbridge then resumed production on the west leg.

On June 22, Nessel asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would suspend operations of the pipeline. Whitmer also sent a letter to Enbridge on June 19, asking the company to shut down the pipeline until it could be investigated.

Democrat U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell and other Michigan congressional Democrats asked federal regulators to temporarily shut down the pipeline.

On June 25, the day after the House vote, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James S. Jamo ordered Enbridge to cease all pipeline operations in response to Nessel’s motion for a temporary restraining order.