Is Gretchen Whitmer shutting down Enbridge pipeline? Michigan guv slammed over closure order amid gas shortage
Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer reportedly botched her timing while attempting to shut down another oil pipeline amid a nationwide gas shortage following last week's Colonial Pipeline hack.
In a Washington Post op-ed published Friday, the Democrat wrote that the Enbridge Inc owned Line 5 pipeline has pumped crude oil through the cross-section of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the Straits of Mackinac, for over seven decades. She described the two four-and-half mile sections as a "ticking time bomb," Fox News reported.
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"Oil and water don’t mix — especially when the latter involves the Great Lakes, the repository of more than 20 percent of the world’s freshwater," Whitmer wrote. "I’m taking every action I can to shut them down, to protect two Great Lakes and the jobs that depend on them."
Line 5 is part of a network that transports crude oil and other petroleum products -- about 540,000 barrels per day -- from Western Canada. In her op-ed, Whitmer cited the rupture of Line 6B of the Enbridge pipeline back in 2010 which served as a warning call to the dangers of oil spills. The governor said she's attempting to avoid another disaster of the kind.
However, many are questioning the timing of her decision. The recent Colonial Pipeline hack that shut down the entire 5,500-mile stretch resulted in a critical shortage of gas, causing long queues at gas pumps and driving prices to record highs. According to Fox News, a Virginia gas station raised its regular gas prices to as high as $7 per gallon.
In November, Whitmer filed a lawsuit against Enbridge notifying the company that the state of Michigan would allow the pipeline six months to cap oil flow operations. The governor reportedly threatened to "disgorge the company of all profits unjustly earned" if it refused to comply. In response, Enbridge said they will continue pumping until ordered by a court to halt operations.
Enbridge, which has the support of several chambers of commerce and Republican legislators in Michigan, seized on last week's pipeline hack.
“The cyberattack that triggered an unplanned, temporary closure brings to the forefront what consumers could face,” Mike Moeller, Enbridge’s director of operations for the Great Lakes region, told PBS. “Without Line 5, consumers will shoulder the burden of supply disruptions and related price increases, particularly for propane and transportation fuel.
Whitmer's office, on the other hand, said in a statement that the Colonial Pipeline interruption “shows the danger of relying heavily on a single energy supply. That’s why Governor Whitmer has put in place a plan to protect jobs, diversify and expand our renewable energy resources, and ensure Michigan’s energy needs are met, while also taking action to get the oil out of the water as soon as possible.”
"Running pipelines through the water of the Great Lakes is, and always has been, a dangerous threat," Whitmer concluded in her op-ed. "I will not sit idle as this time bomb keeps ticking."
Christopher Guith, a senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce, reportedly accused Whitmer of “political theater” and “pandering to the most extreme activists.” “Unfortunately, millions of Americans and Canadians are likely to pay the price for it,” he told PBS.