FILE - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

(The Center Square) – Acknowledging the legal battle she’s waging against Line 5 is an uphill and unpopular battle, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel blamed “propaganda” from the pipeline’s proprietor, which she said has “really changed public perception and opinion.”

Nessel vowed to continue the fight against Line 5 and defended the attempts by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration to shut down the nearly 70-year-old pipeline during a recorded video chat with the Royal Oak Area Democratic Club. The conservative group Michigan Rising Action shared the video with Breitbart.

The governor and attorney general are trying to shut down the portion of Canadian oil company Enbridge’s dual pipeline that runs approximately 5 miles along the lakebed of the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline transports 540,000 gallons of hydrocarbons daily.

The legal battle between Enbridge and Michigan is heating up this month as District Court Judge Janet Neff weighs whether the case belongs in state or federal court. Nessel argues the case should be heard in state court because of the easement agreement between Enbridge and Michigan. Enbridge argues the pipeline is protected by a 1977 international agreement between Canada and the United States and, further, the pipeline is regulated by a federal agency.

Despite attempting to move the case to state court, Nessel called on the administration of President Joe Biden and Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to act. “This is a state issue, but it’s also a federal issue to the extent that it’s not like they’re powerless to do anything.”

In the seven-and-a-half-minute video, the attorney general also claimed any rise in gas prices would be “incredibly minimal” for Michigan residents if Whitmer’s administration is successful in shutting down Line 5. As well, she asserted the pipeline only benefits Canadians.

She said Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “has been very vocal about wanting to make sure that they can provide as much, you know, dirty oil to Canadian citizens as possible, because that’s who Line 5 benefits, not us here in Michigan. It benefits the Canadians, and I wish the Biden administration could be as vocal about the importance of shutting down Line 5 as Justin Trudeau and his government have been about, you know, maintaining a pipeline that has like outlasted its lifespan by, like, you know, two times. It was never supposed to last longer than 40 or 45 years, and, you know, it’s just about 70 years old now.”

A study conducted by the Consumers Energy Alliance, released earlier this month, estimates a Line 5 closure could increase gasoline and diesel costs at the pump by $5.9 billion over the course of five years in the U.S. Midwest. Additionally, Enbridge states Line 5 supplies 65% of Michigan’s propane needs in the Upper Peninsula and 55% of propane needs in the state overall.

“It is clear that a shut-down of Line 5 would only add to the current disruption of the energy market and would hurt small businesses and the hard-working families in Michigan and throughout the region, at a time when they can least afford it,” according to a statement from Enbridge’s Ryan Duffy. “All pieces of energy infrastructure are needed now more than ever. An integrated North American energy network provides the affordable, reliable, sustainable, and secure energy that is needed across the continent.” 

Nessel added the Canadian oil company Enbridge earns $2 million a day, which she said means they “have so much money to put into these propaganda campaigns.” She added: “I wish I had the money Enbridge does. All I know is that they’re going to put that money into whoever runs against me.”

She made no mention of the proposed tunnel that was approved during the waning months of former Gov. Rick Snyder, which would relocate the pipeline 100 feet below the lakebed and encase in concrete.  

“Whitmer’s combined actions and inaction is hurting Michigan families amid record inflation and gas prices,” Eric Ventimiglia, executive director for Michigan Rising Action, said in a statement released earlier this week. Referencing the $400 automobile insurance catastrophic claim rebate checks Michigan residents are currently receiving, Ventimiglia continued: “If the governor gets her way and shuts down Line 5, Michiganders will have to spend their $400 refund checks on new bikes.”

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.