Canada invokes 1977 pipeline treaty with U.S. to prevent Line 5 shutdown

Canada is formally invoking a 1977 pipeline treaty with the United States in a bid to prevent Michigan from turning off the taps to Enbridge‘s Line 5 pipeline.

The dispute stems from a nearly year-old decision by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to revoke a 1953 easement to allow the pipeline to cross the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Read more: Calgary-based Enbridge still willing to talk on Line 5, despite Michigan’s frustration

Whitmer cited environmental concerns about the impact a breach from the aging pipeline would have in the area and gave Enbridge six months to close it.

A U.S. federal court ordered the two sides to negotiate, but Michigan stopped participating in those talks in early September.

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Canada’s lawyer Gordon Giffin says in a letter to a Michigan judge Monday that further proceedings in the case should be halted because Canada is invoking the dispute mechanism of the pipeline transit treaty.

The treaty is meant to prevent either country from unilaterally preventing or disrupting the transport of fossil fuels through pipelines that cross the U.S.-Canada border.

Read more: Line 5 pipeline: How did we get here and what it means for Canada

The treaty, designed to stop U.S. or Canadian public officials from impeding the flow of oil in transit, has never been invoked before.

Enbridge spokeswoman Tracy Larsson said Michigan had let parties know it is not committed to further mediation.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of ‘Team Canada’ – from the Government of Canada to the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan for their commitments and efforts to keep Line 5 open,” she said in an email to Reuters.

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— with files from Reuters 

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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