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Here’s How State Moves Propane Without Line 5

March 16, 2021

State agencies Friday released a propane security plan they say will make sure Michigan has enough energy for when “Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipelines that run through the Great Lakes shut down,” according to the press release issued Friday. 

 The move comes after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her intention to revoke the easement for the Line 5 pipelines at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac by the end of this May.  

According to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) the “action sent as clear a signal as possible to propane retailers and other propane suppliers, who are responding to this opportunity.” 
 
The plan involves: 
 
– Sending clear signals to encourage market participants to invest in alternative sourcing options.  
 
– Ramping up state investment in rail and propane storage infrastructure. Whitmer’s budget recommendation for next fiscal year includes funding for new rail infrastructure and storage of propane at rail yards. 
 
– Increasing state monitoring of the propane industry and coordinating the response to potential disruptions and setting a long-term path to lower energy costs through investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electrification. 
 
– Protecting customers from price gouging, noting that Attorney General Dana Nessel has “a zero-tolerance policy for price gouging under existing law.” 
 
Environmental groups were in support of the state’s plan, with Clean Water Action noting that it “proves that Michigan doesn’t need Line 5.” National Wildlife Federation said in a press release that a “Line 5 shutdown will have little to no impact on Michiganders.” 
 
Other groups that lent support included Oil & Water Don’t Mix, the Great Lakes Business Network, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, For Love Of Water and Progress Michigan. 
 
But U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) — who represents the Upper Peninsula — said Friday that the plan, along with the state’s move to have the current Line 5 decommissioned, will “undoubtedly lead to higher propane prices, less energy reliability and tax dollars being used to supplement inevitable propane cost increases.” 
 
In reference to the language used to describe the plan, Bergman said that “Michiganders can’t heat their homes in winter with clear signals and encouragement. This isn’t a plan. It’s a pipedream.” 
 
A group of lawmakers who represent the U.P. and Northern Michigan — Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) and Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), as well as Reps. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), Gregory Markkanen (R-Hancock) and John DaMoose (R-Harbor Springs) — cast the announcement Friday as “environmentalists within state bureaucracy” continuing a “campaign of misinformation against Line 5.” 
 
The lawmakers said, “This plan will cost taxpayers significantly while limiting the free market and competition and, at the same time, ignoring a $500 million viable solution currently on the table that would address problems and be completely paid for by the pipeline operator,” a reference to the Line 5 replacement and tunnel project proposed by Enbridge that’s going through the permit process now. 
 
The lawmakers said the plan makes it “completely unclear whether Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is going to accept” the Line 5 tunnel, and they called on her “to stake out her position on the Line 5 tunnel.” 
 
Besides the MPSC, the Michigan Departments of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Transportation and Technology, Management and Budget had a hand in putting the propane security plan together. 
 
EGLE Director Liesl Clark said the multiagency plan takes the recommendations from the U.P. Energy Task Force “and implements them in a real way that will positively impact Michiganders, businesses and our economy.”

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