As states in the southeastern portion of the country are still struggling from the shut down of the largest U.S. pipeline, operators of the Line 5 pipeline refused to shut down despite orders from Democrat Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to do so on Wednesday.
“The cyberattack that triggered an unplanned, temporary closure brings to the forefront what consumers could face,” Mike Moeller, Enbridge’s director of operations for the Great Lakes region, said. “Without Line 5, consumers will shoulder the burden of supply disruptions and related price increases, particularly for propane and transportation fuel.”
The Detroit Fox News affiliate reported on the standoff:
A roughly 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) segment divides into two pipes that cross the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The state in 1953 granted an easement to place the pipes on the straits bottom. Whitmer revoked it, saying Enbridge hadn’t met its safety provisions, which the company disputes.
Whitmer ordered Line 5 closed last November because of the potential for a spill in a channel linking two of the Great Lakes. As her May 12 deadline arrived, Canadian pipeline company Enbridge said only the federal government has regulatory authority over its operations. Whitmer warned the company Tuesday that continuing to operate the line would be trespassing and the state would claim Enbridge’s profits from doing so.
Whitmer’s office said in a statement that the Colonial Pipeline interruption “shows the danger of relying heavily on a single energy supply. That’s why Governor Whitmer has put in place a plan to protect jobs, diversify and expand our renewable energy resources, and ensure Michigan’s energy needs are met, while also taking action to get the oil out of the water as soon as possible.”
Fox 5 reported that Line 5 transports oil and natural gas liquids over 645 miles through northern Wisconsin and Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario. The pipeline transports 23 million gallons daily, which are refined for gasoline, jet fuel and propane in several midwestern states and Ontario and Quebec in Canada.
Enbridge has gained support from numerous chambers of commerce and Republican lawmakers. The state sued to enforce the order, which is pending as a federal judge decides whether to retain jurisdiction or send the case to a Michigan state court.
Business groups filed a brief in support of Enbridge, which claimed a shutdown would have “tremendous consequences” for regional and the national economies. The brief said it could mean the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs in the region.
Christopher Guith, senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, accused Whitmer of “political theater” and “pandering to the most extreme activists.”
“Unfortunately, millions of Americans and Canadians are likely to pay the price for it,” Guith said.
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