Insider: Whitmer, Nessel on same page with Line 5

Dana Nessel is Michigan's attorney general. She campaigned at times with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during the 2018 campaign.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Monday she “will use every available resource” to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to find a “swift and straightforward resolution” are unsuccessful.

The statement turned heads in Lansing, but it wasn’t a surprise to Whitmer, who has frustrated some environmentalists by reopening talks with Enbridge about moving Line 5 into a tunnel deep below the Straits of Mackinac, where it currently sits on the lakebed.

“I knew it was coming,” Whitmer said of Nessel’s press release. “I think that she’s got inherent powers in her office. I’ve got a job to do, and hopefully we’re going to move swiftly and have a solution that everyone feels good about.”

Whitmer halted state action on a planned Line 5 tunnel in late March after Nessel invalidated a state law that had been negotiated and signed by Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder.

The first-term Democrat has resumed talks with Enbridge and other stakeholders but wants a deal to get the pipeline out of the water faster than the seven to ten years the Snyder administration estimated the project would take.

Nessel campaigned on a pledge to shut down Line 5 but has deferred to Whitmer in recent weeks before re-iterating her looming threat for Enbridge and anyone else who was listening. 

Whitmer said Tuesday her office is “working diligently” to negotiate a final plan. “We’re not finished," she said. "and so I’m not going to comment beyond that other than to say we share the goal of making sure that we protect the Great Lakes and get the oil out of the water.”

Harris adds Michigan stops

Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris will make two additional stops in Southeast Michigan on Monday following a Sunday night civil rights dinner in Detroit, her campaign announced Wednesday.

The U.S. senator from California will visit a Dearborn public school Monday afternoon  at 2 p.m. and then speak at an American Federation of Teachers union member town hall at Marcus Garvey Academy in Detroit at 4:30 p.m.

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, file photo, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks to members of the media at her alma mater, Howard University, in Washington, following her announcement earlier in the morning that she will run for president. Some Democratic presidential hopefuls are enthusiastically embracing plans to raise taxes on the richest Americans. Harris has proposed rolling back the recent GOP tax cuts for wealthier families to pay for tax rebates for middle- and lower-income earners.

Harris was already scheduled to speak Sunday evening at the Detroit NAACP’s 64th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner.

The two-day swing will be Harris’ first campaign visit to Michigan, which Republican President Donald Trump and several Democratic candidates have marked as an early target.

Calling Michigan an “important battleground state,” Harris’ campaign said she will “lay out her vision to restore truth and justice in America, and lay out her plan to give the average teacher a $13,500 raise by the end of her first term.”

Harris’ ambitious and expensive teacher pay plan, unveiled in late March, would cost an estimated $315 billion over 10 years. Her campaign claims it would be paid for by making changes to the federal estate tax and closing unspecified tax loopholes.

Monday is the first day of Teacher Appreciation Week, her campaign noted. Harris will be joined at Monday events by national AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFT Michigan President David Hecker.

Amash gets primary challenger

A Republican has filed to challenge U.S. Rep. Justin Amash in the GOP primary for Congress next year.

Tom Norton, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, ran unsuccessfully in 2014 for the state House in District 73, coming in fifth place with 7 percent of the vote.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township

Norton previously served as a village trustee in Sand Lake and spent six years in the National Guard, according to his campaign website.

It’s not the first time Amash, a libertarian Republican and sometimes Trump critic, has drawn a primary challenger.

The fifth-term congressman from Cascade Township defeated Republican Brian Ellis by 15 percentage points in 2014. Ellis was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Amash won re-election last year by 11 percentage points, winning 54 percent of the vote.