A US appeals court has granted Michigan’s attorney general a jurisdictional victory in her bid to force Enbridge to stop using the Line 5 oil pipeline underneath the Straits of Mackinac, allowing her to pursue her case in state rather than federal court.

The Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that on Monday, Enbridge, a Canadian multinational pipeline and energy company, waited too long to move Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel’s 2019 lawsuit to federal court when it tried to do so in late 2021.

The case will now go back to Michigan’s 30th Circuit Court for the County of Ingham.

This is the venue where Nessel had originally filed the state’s complaint, the appeals court’s three judges ruled.

Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30in-diameter oil pipeline that runs from Superior, Wisconsin, through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

It has been in operation since 1953 and, according to Enbridge, it has been a “vital piece of Michigan energy infrastructure” since its conception.

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However, a 6.4km section of the pipeline runs underwater through the Straits of Mackinac and environmentalists are concerned about the risk of an oil leak.

Nessel’s office first filed her complaint on 12 July 2019, seeking to shut down Line 5, a twin pipeline system that carries 540,000 barrels per day of oil and other fuel from Western Canada through the Strait of Mackinac into Ontario.

The law allows 30 days for a defendant to remove the case to a different court, the appeals judges noted.

According to local media reports, Circuit Court Judge Richard Allen Griffin said that “Enbridge need to file its notice of approval by August 12, 2019. Enbridge missed that deadline by over two years.”

Reuters also reported that Enbridge said it was disappointed by the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, but that it remained confident that the Michigan state courts would ultimately find that Nessel could not shut down Line 5.

In May, Enbridge announced the completion of its acquisition of the East Ohio Gas Company from Dominion Energy.

This transaction forms part of the deals signed by Enbridge in 2023 to buy three natural gas distribution companies from Dominion Energy for $14bn (C$19.1bn).