Michigan wants Enbridge to promise it will pay for any potential oil spills

The state of Michigan wants Enbridge to promise it will cover costs from a potential oil spill in the channel that links two of the Great Lakes.

Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichenger made the request Friday in a letter to the Canadian company. An Enbridge subsidiary pledged in 2018 to set aside about $1.8 billion to deal with a worst-case spill from its Line 5 pipes in the Straits of Mackinac.

But the state says the subsidiary doesn't have enough money to fulfill that promise, and it's not clear that the parent company is bound by the pledge.

A spokesman says Enbridge is reviewing the state's request but has made clear it would pay for damages if Line 5 ruptures, which the company says is highly unlikely.

Recently, an anchor support system that stabilized one of the legs that transport material to the upper peninsula became damaged and prompted the company to shut it down. After temporarily reopening the pipeline, Michigan's attorney general took the company to court to keep it turned off until Enbridge had provided enough information regarding what had happened. 

On July 1, a judge allowed the west leg to reopen. The east leg remains closed.