Gary Wilson's thoughts on Great Lakes issues and occasionally, other things
Ohio legislative chamber tells Gov. Whitmer to keep Line 5 running; former Michigan governor weighs in
The Ohio House of Representatives last week joined the Canadian chorus of objectors to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's decision to shut down the aged Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline that traverses the Straits of Mackinac between Lakes Michigan and Huron.
In a 73-10 vote, the chamber passed a resolution urging Whitmer to make all efforts to keep Line 5 running. Last November Whitmer set a May 2021 date for the shut down. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Michael Sheehy (D) who said the shut down will disrupt energy supplies and it threatens hundreds of jobs in Ohio.
“I have enormous respect for Governor Whitmer, and for her leadership in the State of Michigan. Why, however, in the midst of a global pandemic, are we risking hundreds of jobs when Enbridge is already working on a safer alternative to the current pipeline," Sheehy said in a press release.
As previously reported here, Canada under the Liberal administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has mounted a high profile campaign including to the Biden administration to pressure Whitmer to rescind her shut down order. And a prominent Michigan voice with Canadian connections has also spoke out on the U.S. and Canadian conflict on Line 5.
Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard (D) said in a TV interview that the way things are going Line 5 will be "litigated forever." Blanchard said it's important to get the pipeline in a tunnel built that will replace Line 5 and he expressed confidence that Whitmer will lead and resolve the issue.
A former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Blanchard said nothing good comes from this dispute for either country. Blanchard previously served on the Enbridge board.
Whitmer has been largely silent on Line 5 since ordering the shut down and her Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has been advancing an alternative energy distribution study assuming that Line 5's demise is soon.
Michigan has an agreement with Enbridge to construct and pay for the tunnel replacement for Line 5 and EGLE has granted permits allowing it to proceed. The Army Corps of Engineers must still give its green light for the tunnel. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tried twice to get a court to invalidate the agreement but it was a no sale. Nessel has said she will not appeal.
A wild card is if or how the Biden administration may play a role. Biden is generally anti-pipeline
but he also wants to improve relations with Canada following President Trump's shabby treatment of our northern neighbor. And he wants to get along with Trudeau who is considered a leader on the world stage on climate change, a priority for Biden. Biden has also has close ties to Whitmer, so a tangled web of allies at odds.
Whitmer, according to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, hasn't exactly been neighborly when it comes to Line 5. Ford alleged in February that Whitmer hasn't returned his call to discuss Ontario's position on the shutdown.
For its part, Enbridge says it will defy Whitmer's Line 5 shut down order. The company maintains that the U.S. federal government regulates its operations, not the state of Michigan.
Anti-pipeline activists remain staunchly supportive of the Line 5 shutdown and are resolute in opposition to its tunnel replacement. They say there are ample energy distribution options to make up for the loss of Line 5.