If you’re a landlord and your tenant behaves irresponsibly, do you reward his behavior and extend his lease?

Well, you are and you shouldn’t.

It’s in inexact analogy, but there are some parallels in Enbridge’s bungling of maintenance on its 64-year-old Line 5 twin petroleum pipelines crossing the Straits of Mackinac.

The company has repeatedly rolled the dice by failing to shore up its pipelines in a timely way despite swift underwater currents.  This has put precious Great Lakes waters at risk of a catastrophic spill.

In a 22-page analysis, FLOW has documented Enbridge’s style of environmental stewardship:  “Enbridge has demonstrated a cavalier attitude toward maintaining compliance with the 75-foot maximum unsupported span provision in the easement granted by the state, while making unilateral judgments of the safety of much longer unsupported spans.  It would be folly to assume this will change.”

FLOW also points out the company is allowed to use the lakebed for its pipeline crossing under an easement that the State of Michigan can terminate, consistent with the public trust doctrine — which holds that certain natural resources like Great Lakes waters and submerged lands are owned by you, as a member of the public, and that government has an obligation as trustee to protect those resources on your behalf.

“Because the public trust is perpetual in nature, any private use of public trust waters and lands is subject to changes in knowledge, understanding, and new circumstances. In other words, the public trust is an inherent limitation on any use of public trust resources, and a state trustee cannot be foreclosed from terminating or modifying a previously authorized conveyance or use if it is determined that additional requirements or a termination of the previous authorization…is necessary to protect or prevent harm to the public trust.”

It’s time for the State of Michigan to start the eviction process.