The Enbridge site in Sarnia. June 2021. (BlackburnNews file photo)The Enbridge site in Sarnia. June 2021. (BlackburnNews file photo)

Canada invokes 1977 pipeline treaty on Enbridge's Line 5

Sarnia's mayor says there's been a major development surrounding the future operation of Enbridge's Line 5 crude oil pipeline.

For the first time, the Canadian government is invoking a 1977 agreement with the U.S., which states that neither country can interfere with the operation of international pipelines.

Mike Bradley was notified of the development on Monday during a call with Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan.

He said it's a big ruling, which will hopefully prevent Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's continued attempts to stop flow of the 68-year-old line, spanning from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia.

"It sends a clear message that the state didn't have the right to interfere with an international pipeline," said Bradley. "Given the record of the governor on this issue in the last couple of years, I suspect they'll try to fight it in court. But, this is an agreement that is an international agreement between Canada and the United States and really (Michigan) shouldn't be involved."

Bradley said thousands of local jobs would be impacted by the closure of Line 5.

"It would also be anti-environment because it would put 800 railcars or trucks daily out there taking product from the west to here," he said. "It also has over 6,000 products that are manufactured out of that line in Ontario, Quebec and Michigan. So, the impact would be severe. This is a clear signal that the federal government will back us all the way on this line."

Environmental groups and First Nations have joined Whitmer in calling for Line 5 to be closed because of safety concerns.

Enbridge has said the line will continue to operate safely while it focuses on plans to construct a 6.4-kilometre tunnel to replace the lines beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Around 540,000 barrels of crude oil and propane are shipped to the U.S. through Line 5 each day.

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