Environmentalist group say Gov Whitmer ordered it after protester breaks in and halts key pipeline

DCNFThomas Catenacci, DCNF

An environmental group applauded the shut down of a Michigan pipeline transporting oil into the U.S. from Canada, saying the act was in accordance with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders.

“This morning, in accordance with Governor Whitmer’s order to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5, a Michigan water protector has taken direct action to shut down the tar sands oil pipeline,” the environmental group Up Hell’s Creek Camp said in a statement Tuesday.

On Tuesday, a protester wearing a hard hat and construction outfit allegedly broke into a Tuscola County, Michigan, facility owned by Enbridge Energy, the Canadian firm that operates the Line 5 pipeline, according to photos and social media posts of the incident. The individual, also wearing a mask, appeared to pull an emergency valve stopping the flow of oil in the pipeline.

Enbridge confirmed that it had to halt operations of its entire pipeline Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

“We respect the rights of others to express their views on the energy we all use, but today’s pipeline tampering incident involving Enbridge was not a lawful protest,” the company’s spokesperson Ryan Duffy told the AP in a statement. “It was a criminal activity that put people and the environment at risk.”

Up Hell’s Creek Camp and the protester, however, claimed that they were enforcing the orders of Whitmer. In November 2020, Whitmer revoked a 1953 easement allowing Enbridge to operate dual pipelines through Michigan, months after she wrote a letter to the firm requesting it to halt operations citing environmental concerns.

The company ignored the state’s order to cease operations, though, and argued Whitmer doesn’t have the authority to regulate interstate pipelines, the Detroit Free Press reported. The case is currently pending before a federal court.

Meanwhile, Resist Line 3, another group that has protested pipelines operated by Enbridge, applauded the individual who allegedly broke into the facility to pull the valve.

“Line 5 is operating illegally,” Resist Line 3 tweeted. “If the politicians won’t turn it off, the people will.”

The Line 5 pipeline transports about 540,000 barrels of crude oil and natural gas per day to Michigan, according to Enbridge. It alone accounts for roughly 55% of the state’s propane supply.

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