Governor Whitmer asks for Attorney General legal review on Line 5 legislation


In her first working day as Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer is taking action on former Governor Rick Snyder’s controversial Line 5 legislation.

The two Line 5 oil pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac have sparked debate throughout the state.

In his final weeks in office, former Governor Snyder created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, which would oversee the construction of a new tunnel that would contain new pipes.

But many are saying this move was rushed and are glad that Governor Whitmer is taking another look.

“This is something the people of Michigan need, particularly on environmental protection,” said Anne Woiwode, the chapter chair of the Sierra Club Michigan, an environmental activist organization.

Woiwode says the Line 5 oil pipelines running along the bottom of Straits of Mackinac are problematic and need to go.

“They’re 65 years old. They are deteriorated; they’ve been dented; they’ve lost their coating,” said Woiwode.

In October, former Governor Snyder said a new pipeline would be built to replace Line 5, saying it’s a common sense solution and completely legal.

“We do what we do best and assume we’re doing it on a legal basis,” said Snyder. “I think we wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think we had grounds for what we’re doing.”

But Governor Gretchen Whitmer requested today that Attorney General Dana Nessel check the constitutionality of this, saying in a statement:

“Resolving any legal uncertainty is necessary to assure that we can take all action necessary to protect the Great Lakes, protect our drinking water, and protect Michigan jobs.”

Woiwode says this was the right move and will help prevent an oil spill in the Great Lakes.

“There are alternatives,” said Woiwode. “We do not need to be transporting oil through the Straits of Mackinac.”

Woiwode hopes a solution is drawn up soon.

“What Governor Whitmer has done is really moved this back to the discussion it should be, which is to say this is the wrong thing to do for Michigan, it’s also illegal, let’s start the conversation over and get rid of these pipelines,” said Woiwode.

During her campaign, Governor Whitmer pledged to take action on the Line 5 pipeline on day one as governor and  today she said she’s holding true to that promise.  


ORIGINAL STORY: When Gretchen Whitmer was campaigning for the governor’s office she promised to take action on the controversial Line 5 pipeline which carries oil under the Straits of Mackinac.

Today she kept that promise.

The new governor is requesting a legal opinion from Attorney General Dana Nessel regarding the constitutionality of the recent Enbridge Line 5 pipeline legislation and the new Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority created by outgoing governor, Rick Snyder.

“Resolving any legal uncertainty regarding PA 359, the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority and action taken by the authority is necessary to assure that we can take all action necessary to protect the Great Lakes, protect our drinking water and protect Michigan jobs,” Whitmer said. 

Nessel is welcoming the chance to weigh in on a law signed last month by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

It created the Mackinac Straits Authority, which quickly backed the deal between the state and Canadian pipeline company Enbridge to drill a tunnel through bedrock below the channel that links Lakes Huron and Michigan.
A new segment of pipeline will extend through the tunnel, replacing twin pipes built in 1953.

He signed that tunnel legislation over the objections of the environmental lobby which continues to demand the pipeline be shut down.

When the bill was signed there were immediate threats of lawsuits blocking the tunnel.

The Sierra Club reacted quickly to the Whitmer announcement today, saying the governor “is standing up for the rule of law” and “Michigan now has a governor and attorney general making independent assessments and decisions regarding Line 5 issues.” 

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