Enbridge Bid to Dismiss Landowner’s Lawsuit Fails, Pipeline Case to Continue

Enbridge Bid to Dismiss Landowner’s Lawsuit Fails, Pipeline Case to Continue, Landowner group wants to force Enbridge to follow local regulations; the pipeline company says the group has no legal standing to sue by Lisa Song, November 29, 2012, InsideClimate News
“Enbridge, I think, has a strategy of trying to delay and string things out and diminish POLAR’s resources, which I think they’re somewhat adept at doing.” Enbridge didn’t challenge the merits of the case, he said. “They didn’t say they had the permits. They just said these guys [POLAR] can’t ask us if we have the permits or not.” … Field said the lawsuit may not be resolved until Phase 1 is complete. “We’re trying to prevent that, but the wheels of justice move slowly.” … POLAR was formed over the summer, when a group of Michigan landowners living on or near the pipeline’s path banded together to support property rights and environmental protection. The group’s original lawsuit was filed in the 6th Judicial District Court in Oakland County. Enbridge then moved the case to federal court and challenged the group’s standing. In October, the Michigan Township Association filed an amicus brief in support of POLAR’s position. The association represents more than 1,235 townships. Larry Merrill, the association’s executive director, said he wasn’t surprised by Tuesday’s ruling. “The federal rules [on] standing are more stringent than in state court…so we have no problem with it remanded to Oakland county circuit court.” Merrill said the Township Association hasn’t decided whether it will file another amicus brief in state court. POLAR has another ally in Brandon Township, a community of 15,000 located 50 miles north of Detroit. The pipeline passes through the township, and Enbridge has refused to follow some of the local ordinances and requests for extra safety measures. In legal filings, Enbridge has said that it follows federal pipeline regulations, which preempt state and local ordinances. But the U.S. Department of Transportation has said it has no control over state rules and regulations. Charles Ten Brink, a law professor from Michigan State University, told InsideClimate News last month that federal law doesn’t always supersede local ordinances. On Nov. 5, two days before the federal hearing, Brandon Township asked to intervene in the case. The judge’s ruling on Tuesday did not address whether the township could join POLAR as a party in the lawsuit. … Axt emphasized that the lawsuit is not about opposing a pipeline, but rather about forcing Enbridge to abide by local regulations. “I think we can all agree the existing laws and permits should all be followed, whether you’re building a pipeline, a house, a road, or a dog house. [Emphasis added]

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