Cautionary warnings from people in the know

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Major editorial boards support and favor keeping Line 5

June 16, 2021

Across airwaves and in print, several media outlets have provided commentary or editorials regarding the multi-level significance of Line 5 while highlighting the perils consumers will face if Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer prevails in idling a vital pipeline.

In February, the Detroit News editorial board published “Energy emergency shows value of Line 5.” The approximately 430-word editorial countered Gov. Whitmer’s declaration Michigan had a propane shortage during the frigid weather that gripped the U.S. that month.

At the same time, it emphasized Michigan “risks having one if the governor gets her way on shutting down the Line 5 petroleum pipeline.”

The editorial shared how Michigan “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.”

Ultimately, the editorial opined “unlike other states hit hard by last week's winter storm, Michigan is not short on propane supplies. Thank Line 5 for that.”

The editorial concluded by cautioning that Gov. 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.”

‘Michigan’s Governor assaults Canada and the Midwest economy’

The Detroit News editorial board isn’t the only one calling attention to Gov. Whitmer’s actions toward Enbridge’s Line 5.

In May, the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) editorial board published “Michigan’s Governor assaults Canada and the Midwest economy.”

First published in the 1800s, the U.S. newspaper prints 754 thousand copies and has daily digital circulation topping more than 2.26 million around the globe.

“These media outlets reach several million people,” said Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores. “The willingness of their respective editorial boards composed of editors and staff with varying viewpoints shows the significance of Line 5 in addressing the equally diverse needs of consumers. The importance of a safe and reliable Line 5 should supersede political agendas.”

The WSJ editorial cited the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline that sent gas prices surging on the east coast as a cautionary tale for Gov. Whitmer to heed.

According to the WSJ editorial, the effects of the cyberattack on consumers and businesses “isn’t stopping Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from trying to shut down another crucial pipeline, no matter the harm across the Midwest and Canada.”

The editorial recapped that Line 5 transports more than half a million barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids through the region and how Gov. Whitmer issued a notice to revoke the long-standing easement that allows Line 5 to travel across the Straits of Mackinac for 4.5 miles.

Acknowledging “no mode of moving energy is risk-free, but pipelines are much safer than rail,” the editorial compares the safe operation of Line 5 in stark contrast to “the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster, where a train carrying oil derailed, spilling some 1.6 million gallons and causing an explosion that killed some 47 people.”

International turmoil

In its editorial, the WSJ also included the strain Gov. Whitmer’s actions are causing between Canada and the U.S., compromising a 1977 treaty between the two countries.

As stated in the editorial, the treaty bars a “public authority in the territory of either signatory nation” from taking actions that would have the effect of “impeding, diverting, redirecting, or interfering with in any way the transmission of hydrocarbon in transit” by pipeline between the two countries. The treaty makes exceptions for emergencies or natural disasters and temporary shutdowns for safety concerns, but not for gubernatorial whim.”

“In addition to refineries in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, those in Ontario and Quebec depend on product from Line 5,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “In turn, the refineries produce more than 6,000 products used every day, including transportation fuel, medicine, televisions, and clothing.”

The WSJ editorial also included the results of a report that indicate Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana would lose more than 33,750 jobs and $265.7 million in annual state tax revenue from the pipeline’s closure.