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Appeals Court Won’t Pause Line 5 Tunnel; Nessel Continues To Challenge PA 359

January 21, 2020

The Michigan Court of Appeals declined the state’s request to put on hold a lawsuit over a state law creating the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, which will oversee construction of Enbridge Energy’s controversial Line 5 tunnel.

Judge Amy Ronayne Krause dissented, describing both Attorney General Dana Nessel’s opinion that Public Act 359 was unconstitutional and the trial court’s opposite ruling as “very well-reasoned.”

“A stay should be granted until the appeal on this issue in this Court is resolved,” Ronayne Krause noted in the court’s Tuesday order.

A stay could have delayed the effect of the Court of Claims decision, but instead PA 359 remains in effect.

Meanwhile, Nessel filed a brief Thursday asking the appeals court to reverse the Court of Claims’ Oct. 31 ruling that upheld PA 359, which was approved in December by the Republican-led Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Rick Snyder during his final weeks in office.

According to Thursday’s filing, Nessel argues PA 359 violates the Title-Object Clause by not providing fair notice of the content of the law and embraces two unrelated objects — a utility tunnel to carry oil beneath the Straits and the Mackinac Bridge to carry motor vehicles above.

Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) noted Nessel’s loss in the lower court, commenting: “Just like (President) Donald Trump, I don’t think AG Nessel is sick of winning yet, although they are for completely different reasons.”

Judges Michael F. Gadola and Patrick Meter were the majority.

This case is separate from the AG’s lawsuit that seeks to shut down Enbridge’s existing pipelines in the Straits.

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