Natural Resources minister says Michigan's concerns have no merit
As the U.S and Canada work to mend fences at the highest levels of government after four years of frosty relations, the Enbridge Energy Line 5 oil pipeline that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to shut down is approaching center stage.
Enbridge is a Canadian company.
Canada's Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan expressed confidence that Line 5 will remain open and said "we are fighting on every front and we are confident in that fight," according to reporting by the CBC.
The Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, said "Line 5 is a crucial piece of energy infrastructure for the U.S. and Canada and that's her principal message.
O'Regan, CBC reports, said he made the Canadian case for Line 5 in recent discussions with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, a former Michigan governor.
Michigan Gov. Whitmer and Canadian Minister of Infrastructure Catherine McKenna also talked recently but the discussions centered on the Gordie Howe Bridge Canada is building between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, McKenna said on Twitter.
Veteran Great Lakes policy adviser Dave Dempsey takes issue with Canada's position on Line 5 and its claim that it is critical infrastructure. "Enbridge can easily transport the same amount of oil around Canada's own end of the lake," he said. Dempsey currently advocates for the shut down of Line 5 and previously served as a policy adviser to the International Joint Commission, the U.S. and Canadian agency that advises the countries on trans-border water issues.
Pressure is mounting on a Line 5 resolution as Whitmer has set a May 30 date for the shutdown, though lawsuits brought by Michigan and Enbridge will likely push that date back.
It is unclear if President Biden will try to intervene. He wants to re-establish good relations with Canada but he and Prime Minister Trudeau differ on pipelines. Both are climate hawks but Trudeau has pushed for pipelines in Canada and Biden recently ordered the shut down of the KXL pipeline. Biden also has close ties to Whitmer.
Michigan and Enbridge have an agreement to build a pipeline in a tunnel to replace the existing Line 5 and Michigan's Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy has approved permits for construction. Additional permits are still pending from the Army Corps of Engineers.
This issue is evolving and I'll continue to report on it here.
Follow on Twitter at @garyglx5 Opinions expressed here are solely mine.
Chicago-based environmental journalist