Canada invokes pipeline treaty with U.S. in dispute over Line 5 pipeline

In this June 8, 2017, file photo, fresh nuts, bolts and fittings are ready to be added to the east leg of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline near St. Ignace, Mich. (Dale G. Young/Detroit News via AP, File)

Canada is formally invoking a 1977 pipeline treaty with the United States in a bid to prevent Michigan from turning off the taps to Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline.

The dispute stems from a nearly year-old decision by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to revoke a 1953 easement to allow the pipeline to cross the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Whitmer cited environmental concerns about the impact a breach from the aging pipeline would have in the area and gave Enbridge six months to close it.

A U.S. federal court ordered the two sides to negotiate, but Michigan stopped participating in those talks in early September.

Canada's lawyer Gordon Giffin says in a letter to a Michigan judge Monday that further proceedings in the case should be halted because Canada is invoking the dispute mechanism of the pipeline transit treaty.

The treaty is meant to prevent either country from unilaterally preventing or disrupting the transport of fossil fuels through pipelines that cross the U.S.-Canada border.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.