(Reuters) – The Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Inc. is vying for a legal battle with Michigan, courting protests from environmental organizations and betting that it can ignore the state's deadline for Wednesday to close its Mackinac Strait oil pipeline.
"We will not stop operating the pipeline unless ordered by a court or our regulator, which we consider highly unlikely," a spokeswoman for Enbridge said.
Line 5 is a link in the Enbridge network for oil exports. from Western Canada to refineries and airports in Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. In November, the Michigan government gave Gretchen Whitmer Enbridge six months to close 540,000 barrels per day that run 40 miles along the bottom of the Mackinac Strait
The state order still needs a confirmatory order from a judge to enforce it, and Enbridge and Michigan discuss whether the matter is to be heard in a state or federal court.
The pages are in court-decided mediation, with the next session scheduled for May 1
Joe Comartin, Canada's Consul General in Detroit arguing for the country's federal government, said disputes could drag on until at least 2024.
"I do not see a court skip the gun and order it closed … until disputes and constitutional issues are resolved, ”he said in an interview.
The Canadian government has lobbied officials in Washington to keep the pipeline open during what is likely to be an election year in Canada, but the White House has so far not considered the matter.
The Ontario government estimates that the city of Sarnia, just across the border from Michigan, could lose 5,000 refineries and chemical plants. Industry lobbyists say thousands of jobs are also at risk in the United States.
Environmental activists and domestic groups opposed to Line 5 say the potential job losses are exaggerated and plan "Evict Enbridge" meetings in Mackinaw City, Michigan, on Wednesday and Thursday.
"After May 12, Enbridge will operate illegally under state law. We are very hopeful to hear from the governor that there will be accountability measures to operate that pipeline, ”said Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation.
Michigan is reviewing what measures would be available to the state if Enbridge continues to operate beyond the deadline, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney General said.
Canadian commodity market forecasts suggest that most traders do not expect line 5 to close in the coming months, but the lack of security applies, says a Calgary-based market source.  "We are looking at all our options and we are leaving no stone unturned to defend Canada's energy security," Natural Resources Minister Seamus O & # 39; Regan said of a parliamentary emergency debate on the pipeline last Thursday.
"We will be ready to intervene strategically at just the right moment, he continued without giving details.