Gretchen Whitmer Nov 19 2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer conducts a press conference on Nov. 19, 2020.

(The Center Square) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to force a shutdown of an oil pipeline path that crosses through her state will not go unnoticed in Illinois, according to industry experts.

Whitmer announced earlier his month that she plans to revoke an easement that’s allowed Calgary-based Enbridge to move oil products from the western Canadian oilfields to various points across the U.S and Eastern Canada via the Straits of Mackinac for more than six decades. Her office notified Enbridge that they must close the line by next May, saying the company’s “incurable violations” of the easement’s terms have put residents in danger.

The closure represents a disruption in the flow of fossil fuel through the northern portion of the continent. The line sends 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula each day, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Should the closure withstand legal challenges, the change would create a ripple effect on Illinois’ oil and natural gas industry. In addition to the second-largest Midwestern oil storage site in Patoka, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President Mark Denzler said the state is a significant hub for refinement and distribution across the country. 

“We are a huge refining state,” he said. “We have four large refineries in the state of Illinois, we have one of two national strategic oil reserves. I think we have more miles of pipeline than any other state in the nation.”

According to the American Petroleum Institute, the natural gas and oil industry employs 234,600 jobs and contributes more than $33.3 billion to the state’s economy.

Whitmer’s announcement was hailed by environmental groups, who say the shutdown could be replaced by freight traffic. 

“Governor Whitmer’s decision to shut down Line 5 will finally safeguard the Great Lakes and the people and wildlife who rely on them from an ecological, economic, and public health catastrophe,” National Wildlife Foundation President Collin O’Mara said in reaction to the announcement.

Others say the closure of Line 5 will result in higher energy costs. 

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.