Michigan Landowners Quietly Rack Up Court Victories in Fight With Enbridge

Michigan Landowners Quietly Rack Up Court Victories in Pipeline Fight With Enbridge, The fierce resistance and legal delays Enbridge is encountering over Line 6B are extraordinary, says expert. But landowners still face an uphill battle by David Hasemyer, October 3, 2012, InsideClimate News
Kim Savage, one of the attorneys representing Weathers and more than a dozen other landowners, said people understand the need for a new pipeline but object to the unsympathetic way Enbridge has gone about dealing with them and the evasive answers the company has given to questions. “Enbridge simply needs to be more honest and forthcoming,” she said. The legal challenges are about getting answers and holding Enbridge to ethical standards, Savage said.

Unanswered questions weigh on Ken Weathers, the retired Ortonville resident who became the first landowner to beat Enbridge in court on Sept. 19. He’s afraid that he might lose his house under a provision of Michigan law that gives lenders the right to demand a mortgage be immediately paid in full if changes are made to the property that lessen its value. A second pipeline, he fears, could trigger that clause. He doesn’t know the answer to that question and it worries him. “They might just say this pipeline makes your house worthless and we want our money,” he said. Although Weathers won, he said he understands Enbridge will probably get what it wants in the end. But if nothing else it was a moral victory for Weathers and others facing the loss of land they treasure.

“I sure hope now Enbridge has a better understanding of the personal anxiety they have been causing people,” Weathers said. “It’s the principle of the thing.”

Debbie Hense knows that, but she wishes Enbridge would be more respectful of not only the trees she loves but of every landowner who faces the uninvited demolition and construction. Hense is the mother of three from Fenton who forced Enbridge to shut down work on her property and then sat in a folding chair to make sure the company didn’t resume. She, too, is one of those people who has had her day in court. A judge issued a restating order preventing Enbridge from working on her property. And at a subsequent hearing last week denied Enbridge’s request to proceed with work until after a Nov. 16  hearing to allow Hense to bring in an expert witness to testify on her behalf that the trees she loves so much are worth more than lumber or fire wood.

“They are so use to being able to do whatever they want they don’t bother with the law,” Hense said. “They are being told they are not above the law and must follow the law.”

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