Canada invokes treaty from the seventies to prevent Line 5 shutdown

Canada Trans Mountain Pipeline

Canada formally invoked a treaty from the 1970s to prevent the U.S. government from disrupting operations at Line 5, Enbridge’s infamous pipeline. Gordon Giffin, counsel for the government of Canada, informed U.S. District Judge Janet Neff of the invocation. The intent would be to pause her consideration of the case during treaty negotiations.

According to reports, Canada said it had invoked the treaty provisions through diplomatic channels. It did so to request negotiations with the U.S. government over the pipeline formally. Neff considers that the case should be lowered to a state court. As it is currently discussing in a federal one.

However, Enbridge argues that the dispute belongs on a federal court, as the pipeline crosses state borders. Consequently, the state of Michigan lacks jurisdiction to decide over the asset’s fate. The state, on the other hand, claims that environmental laws support consideration of the case in a state court.

On his side, Griffin wrote in the filing. “It is necessary nor proper for this court (or any other domestic court) to make any determinations that could undermine, conflict, or interfere with the obligations and processes established by the Treaty.”

He also added. “Canada respectfully submits that with the triggering of the Treaty’s dispute settlement process, the Court should hold proceedings relating to Michigan’s Line 5 shutdown order in abeyance.”

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Canada and Enbridge want more mediation

In contrast, Michigan’s governor, and the main opposition to the pipeline, said she was “profoundly disappointed” by Canada’s decision and called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reverse the invocation. She said Canada was a “strong partner”; however, the nation’s decision endangered Michigan waters on behalf of a “private oil company”; she also criticized Canada for past proposals to store nuclear waste in the Great Lakes basin.

In addition, she said. “I had expected that Canada, a nation that prides itself on its commitment to environmental protection, would share my interest in protecting the Great Lake. Instead, the Government of Canada has chosen to do the bidding of the very oil company responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River Oil Spill; one of the largest inland oil spills in the history of the nation that happened right here in Michigan.”

On the other hand, Enbridge said Monday it appreciated the efforts of “Team Canada” in coming to the defense of Line 5. “We have spoken with government officials on both sides of the border as the State of Michigan has let parties know it is not committed to further mediation.”

Finally, Ryan Duffy said in a statement. “Enbridge has continued to participate in the mediation process in good faith and still is hopeful that a negotiated resolution will continue to provide consumers and industry in the region with safe, reliable energy and advance the quick construction of the tunnel at the Straits of Mackinac.”

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