Law360 covered Steptoe's significant victory in the Michigan Court of Claims for Enbridge in an article titled "Mich. Challenge to Enbridge Pipeline Tunnel Rejected." On October 31, Enbridge defeated a challenge by Democratic Michigan officials to a law enacted by their Republican predecessors that will allow the company to build a tunnel for its pipeline replacement project.
The state of Michigan committed in 2018 agreements that Enbridge may continue to operate its Line 5 pipeline across the Straits of Mackinac until Enbridge constructs an underground tunnel (and replacement pipeline) in coordination with the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, a new state agency created by state legislation passed in late 2018. When a new governor took office on January 1, 2019, she directed the newly elected attorney general to assess the constitutionality of the legislation that created the Corridor Authority. In March, the attorney general issued an opinion declaring the legislation unconstitutional based on the contention that it violates a provision in the Michigan Constitution, which requires that new/amended legislation be appropriately summarized in the legislation’s title. In response to that opinion, the new governor directed the state to not carry out the 2018 agreements. Enbridge sued, challenging the attorney general's opinion and seeking a declaration on the validity of the 2018 statute and agreements. On summary disposition, the Michigan Court of Claims agreed with Enbridge, concluding that the legislation complies with Michigan's Constitution. As a result, Enbridge now maintains the ability to enforce the 2018 agreements against the state, including its right to continue to operate Line 5 until a tunnel is constructed.
Steptoe partners David Coburn, Bill Hassler, Alice Loughran and of counsel Josh Runyan represent Enbridge in this matter along with Dickinson Wright PLLC.
The full article can be read at Law360 (subscription required).