The Whitmer administration and the DNR team up to close the Line 5 Pipeline
After losing in the courts and other avenues, the Whitmer administration and the Department of Natural Resources are pressing forward to close the Line 5 pipeline by revoking the 67-year old easement that allows Enbridge Energy to operate the pipeline. The threat comes after the state agency was directed by Whitmer to review of the easement. The state Attorney General filed a lawsuit in the Ingham County Circuit Court to recognize the action’s validity on behalf of Governor Whitmer and the DNR. If successful, Enbridge would be required to cease operations of the pipeline by May 2021.
Line 5 is a major oil pipeline that transports crude oil and natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac that has been the subject of controversy concerning its decommissioning or upgrade to a safer structure. In 2018, Michigan passed legislation that established an authority to proceed with plans to allow the pipeline owner to invest $500 million to install a new Line 5 inside a concrete lined tunnel bored 100 feet below the lake. The existing Line 5 would then be decommissioned.
The Whitmer administration claims that revoking the easement is a separate action from the tunnel project and that Enbridge could continue that project while Line 5 is shut down. This suggestion is absurd and shows a clear lack of concern for the people and small businesses in the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan. In a press release issued by the Great Lakes Michigan Jobs Coalition, an organization that supports the pipeline, NFIB State Director Charlie Owens observed that “winter is coming, and this is just another strike against small businesses in the Upper Peninsula that are already on the ropes from the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure of Line 5 would have an immediate and crippling effect on the state’s economy as prices skyrocket and small business would be among the first to suffer the consequences of such a short-sighted action.”
When asked if Michigan should shut down the Line 5 Pipeline, 73% of small business members said NO, 11% said YES, and 16% were Undecided. A copy of the question text and results can be viewed HERE.
Representatives from Enbridge Energy indicated that the DNR conducted the review of easement compliance without public disclosure and prevented the company from allowing their technical experts to respond to any concerns or questions raised by the agency.
The governor’s actions are purely political and NFIB will be working with the Great Lakes Michigan Jobs Coalition to oppose these actions in every way possible.