FILE - Enbridge

Exterior of the Enbridge Inc. oil pump station at the Straits of Mackinaw.

(The Center Square) – The Ohio Chamber of Commerce recently joined the General Assembly and other groups in Ohio and Michigan in urging the Biden administration to keep open a Michigan pipeline that supplies crude oil to nearly half the region’s refineries.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week the administration is studying the impact of shutting down Enbridge’s Line 5, an oil pipeline that rests on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac and carries light crude oil, light synthetic crude and natural gas liquids. 

“The Ohio Chamber of Commerce urges President Biden and (Michigan) Governor (Gretchen) Whitmer to keep Enbridge Line 5 operational,” said Ohio Chamber President and CEO Steve Stivers, a former congressman. “Ohio businesses, employees and families depend on Line 5, and are counting on the operation of Line 5 and the construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel to protect local economies of the Great Lakes, all while keeping energy prices affordable for consumers.”

A project was approved by former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to allow Enbridge to create a tunnel to house the pipeline under the lakebed and prevent any environmental issues from occurring. After pushback from activists, the newly elected Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel blocked the tunnel plans and sought to decommission Line 5 altogether. 

“Americans are seeing huge price shocks at the pump and rising energy bills,” Stivers said. “Shuttering Line 5 would not only exacerbate this problem, but it will also be a major setback to domestic energy independence.”

The chamber’s push is the latest in a string of efforts from Ohio officials to pressure Michigan to keep the pipeline open.

Ohio Rep. Brian Baldridge, R-Winchester, testified before the Ohio Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in May and said Whitmer continues to make poor decisions at a time when energy security remains in question.

Baldridge also testified before Michigan’s Senate Energy Committee and met with state Senate leadership in response to Ohio Resolution 13, which urges Michigan to keep the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline operating.

The Line 5 pipeline services two Oregon refineries in northwest Ohio. According to Ohio officials, closing the line would cause a significant disruption in the supply chain, which serves as a source of jet fuel for several regional and international airports, particularly in Cleveland and Detroit.

A Line 5 shutdown affects jobs and fuel availability to the region, according to Enbridge, leaving Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan and Canadian provinces Ontario and Quebec with a 14.7-million-U.S.-gallons-a-day supply shortage of gas, diesel and jet fuel. That represents about 45% of the current supply.

A shutdown could cause the loss of $5.4 billion in economic output to Ohio and southeast Michigan and impact more than 20,000 Ohio jobs, the company said.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.