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Gov. Whitmer to AG Nessel: Is the Line 5 law constitutional?

Enbridge
Enbridge's Line 5 runs from Superior, WI to Sarnia, Ontario, crossing through the Great Lakes at the Straits of Mackinac and the St. Clair River.
Credit Enbridge
Map of Line 5.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to know if a law passed during last year’s lame duck session is constitutional, and she’s enlisted new Attorney General Dana Nessel to look into the matter.

Outgoing governor Rick Snyder signed a law before leaving office. It created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority. That authority will oversee a tunnel to house a new section of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. That pipeline carries oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac.

In a press release, Nessel said, “This request raises serious legal concerns. In no way should any entity rely on this Act to move forward unless and until these matters have been resolved.”

Here’s more from the press release:

“There are serious and significant concerns regarding PA 359, which the previous governor and legislature initiated and passed without the care and caution one would expect for an issue that will have a monumental impact on our state,” said Nessel.  Both Nessel and Whitmer have been vocal about their concerns regarding Line 5.

“Governor Whitmer has rightly – and immediately – raised important questions about the legality and statutory underpinnings of this Act and my office is prepared to tackle her request for an opinion immediately,” added Nessel.  “I encourage any interested or concerned party to forward a brief or legal memo on the issues raised by the opinion request.”

During their campaigns, both Nessel and Whitmer called for Line 5 to be shut down.

Incoming Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield helped craft the final version of the law. He says the legislation is constitutional.

Editor’s note: Enbridge is one of Michigan Radio’s corporate sponsors.

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Cheyna Roth
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R