Amicus Brief

City of Lansing, Lansing Mayor, and Ingham County Comm Lisa Dedden v MPSC and Wolverine Pipeline

Case Year: 2003
Case Forum: Michigan Supreme Court
Keywords: Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), Michigan Constitution, pipeline, right of way, rights of way, equal protection
Amicus Counsel:

Dean M. Altobelli (P48727) | Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. | One Michigan Avenue Suite 900 | Lansing MI 48933 | 517- 487-2070


Michigan’s Constitution gives the city the power of consent regarding Wolverine’s proposal to run a pipeline in the 1-96 right-of-way throught the city. Wolverine is a public utility under Const art 7, § 29. Const 1963, art 7, § 29 applies to highways running through a city. A city’s specific power of consent under Const 1963, art 7, § 29 overrides any general powers of the State Department of Transportation. MCL 247.183 gives the city the power of consent of Wolverine’s proposal to run a pipeline in the I-96 right-of-way through the city. Wolverine is a “public utility” company within the meaning of MCL 247.183(1). The local consent power of MCL 247.183(1) applies to Wolverine’s proposed limited access highway work. The Legislature changed MCL 247.183 to require local consent for limited access highway utility work. The court should declare waht the law plainly says rather than stray into legislative analyses. As expressed in the direct language of MCL 247.183, the legislature apparently decided pipeline companies like Wolverine must secure a city’s consent before building a
pipeline through the city. It is not the role of the Court to second guess the wisdom of this legislative policy choice and rewrite the law. And the Court does not resort to legislative history to cloud statutory text that is clear. The Legislature has the power to make a policy change and again amend MCL 247.183. Wolverine’s appeal properly belongs before the Legislature, not the Court.


Michigan Supreme Court:
In this case, we are called on to determine if defendant Wolverine Pipe Line Company (Wolverine) must obtain the permission of the city of Lansing before constructing a gas pipeline longitudinally in the right-ofway adjacent to an interstate highway when part of the pipeline would be constructed within city limits. We affirm the Court of Appeals decision that Wolverine must obtain local consent but that such consent need not be obtained before the Michigan Public Service application Commission (PSC).

MSC requested LDF amicus brief? No

Wolverine is an interstate common carrier that constructs, operates, and maintains pipelines used for transporting petroleum products. It planned to construct a twenty-six-mile liquid petroleum pipeline along the Interstate-96 (I-96) corridor, within the right-of-way of the interstate highway. Although the land is under the control and jurisdiction of the state’s Department of Transportation, several miles of the highway are within the city limits. In December 2001, Wolverine, before commencing any work on the project, filed an application with the PSC for approval of its plan. The mayor and the city, as well as Ingham County Commissioner Lisa Dedden, were allowed to intervene in the PSC proceeding. The application was treated as a contested case and a hearing was held. The city moved to dismiss the application, arguing that the PSC had no jurisdiction because Wolverine’s application lacked the requisite consent from the city. The PSC denied the motion and authorized the project, finding that the city’s consent was not required to accompany the application. With regard to the reasonableness of the project, the PSC determined that there were no equal protection violations in the route selection and found the project necessary and safe.

Case Number: 2003-03
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