Energy emergency shows value of Line 5 pipeline
Michigan doesn’t have a propane shortage, despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s declaration of an energy emergency in late February. But it risks having one if the governor gets her way on shutting down the Line 5 petroleum pipeline.
Whitmer, a spokesperson explained, joined 34 other states in declaring the emergency based on the recommendation of energy experts at the Public Service Commission to deal with increased demand for propane from the cold snap and the delivery challenges presented by icy road conditions.
Her order suspended the maximum limits on daily hours tanker truck drivers can stay on the road.
The administration acknowledged that, unlike other states hit hard by last week’s winter storm, Michigan is not short on propane supplies.
Thank Enbridge Line 5 for that.
The dual pipeline runs under the Straits of Mackinac and carries petroleum products to refineries in southern Ontario, Michigan and elsewhere. It moves resources that account for 55% of the propane used for heating fuel in the Lower Peninsula, and 65% in the Upper Peninsula.
That assures uninterrupted delivery of propane that otherwise would have to be transported largely by tanker trucks that are susceptible to weather conditions, traffic and driver shortages. Without Line 5, hundreds more propane tankers would be on Michigan’s roads.
Largely because of the reliability of Line 5, Michigan residents who depend on propane avoided the tragedies that unfolded in Texas and other states when heating fuel supplies were cut off.
Whitmer made the shutdown of Line 5 a core campaign promise when she ran for governor in 2018.
She continues her fight to remove the line from the Straits, even though the operator, Enbridge, is well on the way to replacing the existing pipeline with one that will be buried 100 feet below the lake bed in a virtually leak-proof concrete tunnel.
That solution, negotiated by former Gov. Rick Snyder and paid for by Enbridge, would remove the environmental threat of the more than 60-year-old pipeline.
But it doesn’t satisfy Line 5’s opponents, who see the pipeline as an enabler of America’s fossil fuel economy.
Whitmer should look hard at what happened in Texas and other states where energy supplies were disrupted to tragic consequence in part because of wrong-headed energy policy.
Line 5 is a Michigan asset that keeps energy supplies flowing despite the weather and prices lower than they would be if those petroleum products were transported by road or rail.
Whitmer should recognize the advantage the pipeline provides Michigan, drop her attacks on Line 5 and join with Enbridge in getting the Straits tunnel built as quickly as possible.