(The Center Square) – Despite reassuring statements made last May by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, President Joe Biden’s administration is studying the potential closure of Line 5 as fuel prices continue to rise.
The Biden administration now is collecting information on Line 5 before making any final determination on the pipeline’s fate. The president signed an executive order to revoke permits for the Keystone XL pipeline last January, which would have transported hydrocarbons from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.
Additionally, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have been aggressively litigating to shut down the portion of Line 5 that spans five miles of the Lake Michigan lakebed. The governor also wants to cancel construction of a proposed $500 million tunnel beneath the lake bed that would replace the current five-mile section, which would be paid for entirely by Enbridge, the Canadian company that owns and operates Line 5.
Line 5 transports approximately 540,000 gallons of hydrocarbons from Canada into Wisconsin and across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. From there, Line 5 continues across approximately five miles of Lake Michigan lakebed, across the Lower Peninsula and across Lake Huron into Sarnia, Canada.
Granholm, who previously served as Michigan governor from 2003 to 2011, spoke last May about the safety of transporting hydrocarbons by pipeline as opposed to railroads, shipping and highways. The DOE secretary was addressing the media regarding the cyber-attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which transports hydrocarbons from Texas to New York. The cyber-attack temporarily caused a massive fuel shortage last spring.
"So this particular area of the country there – this is why we have doubled down on ensuring that there’s an ability to truck oil in – gas in," Granholm answered a reporter at the time. "But it’s – the pipe is the best way to go."
In a nationally broadcast interview last week, Granholm acknowledged home energy costs will rise this winter, but, when questioned whether she would advise increasing U.S. oil production, answered: “That is hilarious. As you know, of course, oil is a global market. It is controlled by a cartel. That cartel is called OPEC, and they made a decision yesterday that they were not going to increase beyond what they were already planning.”
In the meantime, gasoline prices in Michigan have increased more than 50% since January, and home-heating costs are anticipated to also escalate by 50%.
Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, has warned of steeply rising fuel prices and, worse, fuel shortages that will be felt the most severely by low-income and rural households.
“As we enter the winter months and temperatures drop across the Midwest, the termination of Line 5 will undoubtedly further exacerbate shortages and price increases in home heating fuels like natural gas and propane at a time when Americans are already facing rapidly rising energy prices, steep home heating costs, global supply shortages, and skyrocketing gas prices,” more than a dozen U.S. representatives from the Midwest wrote in a letter to Biden last week.
To fight the closure plan, the Canadian government has invoked a 1977 international treaty, which reads, in part: “No public authority in the territory of either Party shall institute any measures, other than those provided for in Article V, which are intended to, or which would have the effect of, impeding, diverting, redirecting or interfering with in any way the transmission of hydrocarbon in transit.”
Daniel Turner, founder and executive director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit think tank focused on energy issues, responded to reports the Biden administration might shutter Line 5. Turner noted the Biden administration last week issued sanctions against one ship and two companies affiliated with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which extends from Russia to Germany.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. The Biden Administration's stubborn and wrong-headed opposition to pipelines has, in less than a year, transformed America from energy independent to begging foreign cartels to produce more supply,” Turner said in a statement. “From Keystone to Nordstream 2 to now Line 5, it is clear that this Administration will stop at nothing to keep the lunatic fringe left among their rapidly shrinking group of supporters. With leadership like this, it should come as no surprise that gas prices are hitting all-time highs at the same time Biden's approval sinks to 38 percent."