INGHAM COUNTY, Michigan — Today a judge granted Attorney General Nessel’s request for a temporary restraining order, requiring Enbridge to immediately cease operation of the approximately 4-mile long segment of the Line 5 oil pipeline that crosses the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. This decision comes just a week after Gov. Whitmer learned about significant damage to the Line 5 pipeline infrastructure. The State called on Enbridge to disclose all information about the issue. After no response to the state, Nessel then filed a request for a temporary restraining order to cease operations until the state can conduct a full review and examine all documentation. Enbridge later refused to provide Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC) and other tribes with information on what went wrong, placing the treaty-protected waters at risk.
In its order, the judge wrote, “the severe risk of harm that may result from Defendants’ operation of the West Line . . . is so substantial and irreparable, and endangers so many communities and livelihoods and the natural resources of Michigan, the danger far exceeds the risk of financial loss to Defendants.”
BMIC has been on the frontlines of this fight for years and recently teamed up with Earthjustice and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in order to defend its treaty-fishing rights, and culture and traditions.
“The court’s decision today was a great step forward in protecting our Great Lakes from this uniquely dangerous pipeline. Bay Mills will not stop until this threat to our waters and treaty rights is removed. In addition, this situation shows once again that Enbridge cannot be trusted to safely operate any pipeline,” said Bryan Newland, Bay Mills Indian Community tribal chairman. “Enbridge continues to withhold information from us, from regulators, and from the public. We want to know what they’re hiding and why they’re hiding it.”
According to NARF Staff Attorney David Gover, “The court’s decision to put a hold on the damaged Enbridge pipeline is absolutely right. Both the state and the Bay Mills Indian Community are still waiting for information from Enbridge as to what exactly happened last week. The pipeline poses a real threat to the Tribe’s water and lifeways. The people deserve to know the risks that Enbridge is taking with their homelands.”