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Attorney General’s Case Against Enbridge Could Move to State Court

The State’s case against Enbridge over Line 5 is one step closer to moving back down from federal to state court.

On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan granted Attorney General Dana Nessel’s request for an appeal. She believes the district court made legal errors when it denied her request to move the case back to state level.

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It was originally moved up to the federal level after a similar lawsuit filed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was moved. Nessel says the deadline to do that for her case had expired by two years.


By certifying the denial, the district court opens the door for Attorney General Nessel to make her appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“This pipeline poses a grave threat to Michigan and to our Great Lakes,” said Nessel. “Enbridge initially agreed that this case belonged in state court and waited two years to move it to federal court. I am grateful that the district court has now recognized that an appeal is appropriate, and I look forward to raising these important issues in the Sixth Circuit.”

Nessel’s lawsuit aims to cease use of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac as soon as possible. Enbridge wants the pipeline to stay open until an underground utility tunnel can be built, which they are currently in the permitting process for.

“She wants the state court to hear these issues that will be determined by state law... so that’s why they want it in the state court. Enbridge doesn’t want it in state court for those same reasons. It’s worried that a state court is likely to be more sympathetic to the state interests. Get some detached federal judge and you might have better luck,” said Zach Welcker, legal director for FLOW (For Love of Water).


Welcker expects a response from the Sixth Circuit Court in a few months, but the legal fight after that will extend more than a year.

Enbridge says federal law supersedes state laws in a case involving an international pipeline.

They sent a statement to 9&10 News saying in part, “The AG seeks to undermine these considerations and promote gamesmanship and forum shopping, while ignoring the substantial federal issues that are properly decided in federal court, and not state court.”

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