Ottawa files brief in Michigan court in support of Line 5
Ottawa is once again urging a Michigan judge to keep Line 5 operating while it works with the United States on negotiating an end to the impasse over the controversial cross-border pipeline.
Gordon Giffin, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada who is serving as Ottawa’s counsel of record, filed a fresh amicus brief this week spelling out the stakes for both countries if the pipeline, owned and operated by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., is shut down.
The newest brief is significantly more compact than the version Canada filed in an identical case last year, but reiterates the original argument, with one significant difference: the first brief was filed in May, before the two countries sat down in hopes of ending the standoff.
Since then, officials from both Canada and the U.S. have met once already, sitting down in mid-December under the terms of a 1977 treaty designed to prevent interruptions to the cross-border flow of oil and gas, and will gather again some time in “early 2022,” the documents note.
The treaty requires both countries “not to shut down or otherwise impede the operations of international hydrocarbon transit pipelines that transport hydrocarbon products from somewhere in Canada to somewhere else in Canada via the United States, or vice versa,” they argue.
That clause “applies to Line 5, which has transported hydrocarbons since 1953 from Western Canada to Central Canada via Wisconsin and Michigan,” the brief continues, and applies “to any measures instituted by a ‘public authority in the territory of either party’ — which includes the state of Michigan and its officials.”
Until those talks reach an agreement or head to arbitration, it’s vital that the court not grant Michigan’s request that the line — which crosses the Great Lakes beneath the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac — be unilaterally shut down, the brief argues.