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Nessel Pledges June Action On Line 5 If Gov Can’t Reach Deal

June 4, 2019

Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a series of interviews that she would take action to decommission Line 5 “in the month of June” if talks between Enbridge and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer don’t go anywhere.

Nessel said that at the Governor’s request, she gave Whitmer and Enbridge time to work out a deal that could involve a “more expeditious process” of having Line 5 decommissioned, a promise made by Nessel during her campaign to do just that.

“But I’m not going to wait forever, either, just knowing that every single day that goes by is a day we could have a spill,” Nessel told MIRS in an interview on Mackinac Island last week during the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference.

Crain’s Detroit Business reported that the Attorney General said Tuesday she’d take action in 30 days, and also reported Whitmer said, “I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing for her to suggest that we need to have a strategy that’s public within the next month or so” and added later that, “We’re moving forward and if we don’t have resolution, it’s going to play out, I think, in court. I don’t think that’s a good thing. But, ultimately, that might be where it’s headed.”

Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown said Wednesday that the “Governor’s Office has had discussions with the AG’s Office” and that Whitmer is “committed to a solution that protects the Great Lakes, removes the pipelines from the Straits as soon as possible and provides for the Upper Peninsula’s energy needs.”

Nessel earlier this year declared unconstitutional the law passed in late 2018 that made way for the tunnel project. Whitmer ordered state agencies to halt work toward the tunnel project and has been talking with the company to get a deal done.

Nessel said this week she personally doesn’t support encasing a replacement Line 5 in an underground tunnel. However, she said she’s “not a policymaker” and that “no one elected me Governor” and that’s for the Governor to decide, policy-wise.

But for Nessel, she said her obligation is related to the existing underwater pipeline, as she said every day that Line 5 continues to run, “our state is in great peril.”

“I don’t know if the economy of the state of Michigan will ever recover in my lifetime, should we have a spill of the kind of magnitude that we possibly could have,” Nessel said.

Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy said Wednesday, “We continue to have discussions with the Whitmer Administration on finding a path forward for the tunnel project.”

Duffy said the option to house a new Line 5 in an underground tunnel is “supported by more than half of all Michiganders, according to a recent survey commissioned by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.”

Meanwhile, the Oil & Water Don’t Mix Coalition organized a demonstration Wednesday on Mackinac Island against Line 5 and the proposed tunnel idea.

Protestors in matching black t-shirts that said “No Line 5 Oil Tunnel” marched through the business district on the island up to the Grand Hotel, where they were turned away because the hotel is on private property.

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