It took a while, but Canada has finally grasped the reality that the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline that traverses the Straits of Mackinac and brings oil to Canada could actually be shut down.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the shut down saying the 65+ year old pipeline is a threat to the Great Lakes. Her order is effective at the end of May 2021. Enbridge is in court challenging Whitmer’s decision saying that Michigan has no legal authority to declare Line 5 unsafe as the federal government has responsibility for pipeline safety and the feds are ok with
Now comes Canada.
Enbridge, a Canadian company, ships oil and natural gas to Ontario and Quebec via Line 5 through Michigan. Canadian business interests say a Line 5 shut down will have “severe implications” for Ontario and Quebec according to Canadian media reporting.
As the deadline nears for the shutdown, Canada has raised the issue formally with the nascent Biden administration. Not only as a practical issue of supply but as a trade issue, which raises the stakes. It’s too soon to tell what anti-pipeline Biden will do, if anything. But two things to consider.
Biden wants to mend fences with Canada after his predecessor’s shabby treatment of its neighbor and key trading partner. But Biden also has close ties to Gov. Whitmer who was on his short list for V.P.
And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is unlikely to sit on the sidelines on this issue. He’s a climate hawk but also has supported pipelines in Canada. Plus he’s getting pressure to not cave to the Americans
Will the U.S. be neighborly and consider Canada’s concerns? Or treat Canada like a little brother, which is how some Canadians see the relationship. Stay tuned.
Chicago-based environmental journalist