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Judge rules greenhouse gas emissions shouldn’t factor into the decision to replace Line 5

Environmental Defence Canada


Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s notice to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac by May won’t prompt some of the changes many environmental groups hoped for. 

It won’t affect how the state reviews a plan to replace the pipelines and build a tunnel beneath the lakebed, according to a ruling from Judge Dennis Mack this week. 


The shutdown notice can’t be used to reexamine “the public need for Line 5, or any aspect of its operation and safety,” Mack wrote in his decision.


It also doesn’t change the scope of the environmental review of the project, which will continue to exclude the impacts of burning fossil fuels. 


The decision comes as the Michigan Public Service Commission will decide whether to allow Enbridge, the Canadian energy company behind Line 5, to carry out its plans to replace the underwater pipelines. The agency is not expected to make its decision until 2022. 


A number of environmental non-profits, including For the Love of Water (FLOW), said they plan to appeal the judge’s decision.

Lexi Krupp reports on science and the environment. Previously, she worked for Gimlet Media where she helped the Science Vs team distinguish what's fact from what's not. Her work has appeared in Audubon, Popular Science, VICE, and elsewhere.