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story.lead_photo.caption Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer takes part in the inaugural ceremonies at the Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (Cory Grand Rapids Press via AP)

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan's new governor and attorney general moved quickly Wednesday to review the legality of a contentious state deal to run an oil pipeline beneath a crucial section of the Great Lakes.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her request for a legal opinion from Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who welcomed the opportunity and expressed concern with a law that facilitated the agreement between the state and Canadian pipeline company Enbridge. Such opinions, while not the same as legal rulings, are considered to bind state agencies unless reversed by a court. Both Whitmer and Nessel had questioned the deal before taking office Tuesday.

The GOP-led Legislature and Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder rushed to enact the law after Whitmer was elected in November. The new Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority then swiftly approved the proposal to drill a tunnel through bedrock up to 100 feet below the more than 4-mile-wide channel that links Lakes Huron and Michigan. A new segment of pipeline will extend through the tunnel, replacing twin pipes that have lain along the lake bed since 1953. They are part of Enbridge's Line 5, which carries crude oil and natural gas liquids used in propane from Superior, Wis., through northern Michigan to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario.

"There are serious and significant concerns regarding [Public Act] 359, which the previous governor and legislature initiated and passed without the care and caution one would expect for an issue that will have a monumental impact on our state," Nessel said in a statement.

Whitmer said resolving any legal uncertainty over the law, the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority and the panel's speedy approval of the agreement "is necessary to assure that we can take all action necessary to protect the Great Lakes, protect our drinking water and protect Michigan jobs."

Business on 01/03/2019

Print Headline: Michigan's AG embraces call to review pipeline deal

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