The Latest Pipeline Battleground: Line 5 in Michigan

From executive orders (Keystone XL) to cyberattacks (Colonial), pipelines are in the crosshairs this year. The Line 5 pipeline is the latest target.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer is continuing her fight against fossil fuels as she seeks to permanently decommission Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline, an essential component of the region’s economy.

The pipeline transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of crude oil and natural gas throughout the region in both the U.S. and in Canada. It provides over half of Michigan’s propane and about 45% of the fuel need in both Ontario and Quebec, Canada’s most populous provinces. The pipeline depends upon a 1953 easement granted through a roughly five-mile stretch through the Straits of Mackinac. Governor Whitmer has called for the withdrawal of the easement permit.

Governor Whitmer and newly appointed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have both expressed concern over the pipeline’s safety and the potential for a leak that could impact the Great Lakes. However, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency under the U.S. Department of Transportation, has made it clear that this threat is nonexistent.

The alternative to a pipeline such as this would be increased truck and rail transportation of oil and natural gas products, both of which are much more dangerous, more polluting and more expensive. Additionally, the Consumer Energy Alliance estimates that the states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania would lose over 33,750 jobs and $265 million in annual state tax revenue should the pipeline shut down. Shutting down this pipeline would be counterproductive and harmful to both the economy and the environment.

ALEC has produced various content on the hurdles faced by pipelines in the past. Read more on the topic here.

In Depth: Energy

It is difficult – and perhaps even impossible – to overstate the relationship between readily available access to safe, affordable and reliable energy and individual prosperity and economic wellbeing. This is because energy is an input to virtually everything we produce, consume and enjoy in society. Think for a minute…

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