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Company continues operating pipeline through Michigan despite governor's order

A Canadian energy company is continuing to operate a pipeline through Michigan despite Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerThe Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Whitmer announces Michigan reopening Michigan Senate passes voter ID mandate MORE’s (D) order to shut down.

Whitmer on Tuesday ordered Enbridge Energy to stand down its oil and gas pipeline, Line 5, by May 12, saying that the pipeline in the underwater section of Line 5 is too risky to keep operating.

“These oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac are a ticking timebomb, and their continued presence violates the public trust and poses a grave threat to Michigan’s environment and economy,” Whitmer’s office said at the time.

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But the pipeline still continued operating, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Michael Barnes, a spokesperson for Enbridge, told The Hill in a statement that the company is "operating lawfully." 

"We are operating the pipeline lawfully and following the guidance of our federal regulator, [the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration], which says Line 5 is fit for service," Barnes said.

"A shut down of Line 5 has serious, broad ramifications and raises substantial federal and international questions relating to interstate and international commerce. That is why the case is in federal court where the judge has ordered mediation. We are confident that one of these paths will produce a resolution," he continued.

Barnes said the company's responsibility is to "the people of Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Enbridge will continue to deliver via Line 5 safe, reliable and affordable energy to fuel to the region’s economies." 

The pipeline moves nearly 23 million gallons of oil and gas per day through northwestern Wisconsin and Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario, according to The Associated Press.

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Supporters of the pipeline argue that shutting it down would negatively impact regional and national economies.

Enbridge in a statement on Wednesday touted support from businesses and governmental agencies in support of the pipeline, who all filed amicus briefs in the state’s federal lawsuit over the pipeline.

Among the entities are the Chambers of Commerce from the U.S., Canada, Michigan and Ohio, along with the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

“The proposed shutdown of Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac would have a substantial negative impact to their member businesses, their employees, and residents of Canada and the United States, including those of Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin,” the chambers wrote in a brief, according to the company.

The Hill has reached out to Whitmer’s office for comment.

Updated 9:05 p.m.