At least a third of the country recently experienced what it’s like when a major oil and gas pipeline is shut down — an event that triggered a scary situation where gas was scarce, which quickly led to hoarding and skyrocketing prices.
That’s why it’s absolutely perplexing that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is actively attempting to shut down a major pipeline that carries roughly 540,000 barrels of natural gas and oil products into Canada for refinement into propane. Whitmer ordered the revocation of the easement of the Line 5 pipeline last year, which is partly underwater, citing mostly environmental concerns, according to the Washington Times.
It’s only because Enbridge, the Canadian-baed owner of the critical pipeline, challenged Whitmer’s order and said it should be decided in federal court that the pipeline is still operating. Top officials from the company warned of a similar situation to the Colonial pipeline shutdown, should Whitmer be successful in shutting it down.
“The cyberattack that triggered an unplanned, temporary closure brings to the forefront what consumers could face if Gov. Whitmer is successful in her efforts to revoke the 1953 easement between Enbridge and the State that enables Line 5 to operate in the Straits of Mackinac,” said Mike Moeller, an Enbridge director of operations for the region.
“Without Line 5, consumers will shoulder the burden of supply disruptions and related price increases, particularly for propane and transportation fuel,” Moeller added.
The dispute began in November, with Whitmer and Michigan’s head of its Department of Natural Resources arguing that future spills or damage to the pipeline could cause catastrophic environmental damage
“We cannot risk the devastating economic, environmental, and public health impacts of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes,” a spokesperson for the governor said at the time, adding that they believe the pipeline is a “ticking time bomb,” yet citing no evidence that there’s any imminent danger other than a hypothetical possibility.
Enbridge officials made clear that they will not shut the pipeline down unless the order comes down from a federal court or a Canadian regulatory agency, which the company claims are not likely outcomes.
The issue will reportedly undergo a meditation session in federal court this week as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nesse attempts to move the case to a state court.