6th Circuit Says Enbridge Line 5 Can Run Through National Forest

The Sierra Club is deciding whether to appeal the decision.

National Wildlife Federation

A federal appeals court says an Enbridge oil pipeline that runs through a northern Michigan national forest does not need a new permit to continue operating.

The Sierra Club filed the lawsuit. It says Enbridge’s Line 5 permit effectively expired and needed a new one. The Sierra Club’s David Holtz says that warranted a new environmental risk assessment by the U.S. Forest Service. 

“So their permit was up and that’s basically what our argument is, that they should have done that,” said Holtz.


The appeals court says Enbridge had made some administrative changes to its business, but nothing that would require a new look at the environmental risks of the pipeline to the Huron-Manistee National Forest in northern Michigan, or to endangered species such as the Kirtland’s Warbler.

“This ruling is important for Michigan residents because Line 5 in the state carries energy daily that people rely on. We provide natural gas liquids that are turned to propane for more than half the state,” said Ryan Duffy with Enbridge.

The Sierra Club is deciding whether to appeal the decision.

Line 5 also runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac. The arguments over the environmental risks of the underwater portion of the pipeline were not part of this case.