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Senate Gets Canadian Officials To Support Line 5

March 23, 2021

The Gov. Gretchen Whitmer administration plan on moving propane to the Upper Peninsula — if she’s successful in shutting down Line 5 before the construction of the tunnel under the Mackinac Straits — is “a mockery of the very idea of having a plan,” said Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) Tuesday.

Prior to hosting a 90-minute hearing on the subject with the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, McBroom launched into the Michigan Propane Security Plan on the Senate floor as having “no meat on the bones.”

“It is the most anemic, non-plan I can imagine. You’ve got nothing, nothing here,” he said. “It’s like: ‘We’re going to monitor things and send clear signals to people that we’re not going to let them get propane off of Line 5 anymore. That’s our plan.”

State agencies said Friday that Michigan would have enough energy for when “Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipelines that run through the Great Lakes shut down.”

Outside of encouraging investment in alternative energy, the governor is going to ramp up state investment in rail and propane storage infrastructure. McBroom, the only state Senator from the Upper Peninsula, scoffed at the announcement.

The Upper Peninsula will need to replace 30 million gallons of propane. The Lower Peninsula will need another 100 million gallons.

“Rail and trucks will just magically appear and fill in this gap?” McBroom said. “Railroad siding will just be built? All the permits will just get granted? All the property will get built? All the people who need it are going to afford the equipment it takes to move propane off a rail car into an on-ground storage facility? And we’re going to get this all done by next fall? I mean, this is so insulting to everyone’s intelligence.”

Tuesday’s joint hearing with McBroom’s Natural Resources Committee and the Energy Committee chaired by Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway) featured testimony from several Canadian officials on the economic importance that Line 5 deliver petroleum to Sarnia.

Lauwers’ take away is that by closing down the pipeline, the governor is withdrawing from an international treaty — a decision she has no authority to make. Outside of that, if the governor is relying on the fear of oil pollution as the reason to shut down the pipeline, transportation by rail and truck is risker, he said.

Environmentalists took exception at Canada reaping the benefits of oil being transported across Michigan because it doesn’t want the environmental risks of running pipe through their own country.

“Today’s hearing is yet another attempt by Enbridge and Canadian officials to create false narratives around Line 5 and continue its arrangement where Michigan assumes all the risk of the damaged, 68-year-old Line 5 pipeline in our Great Lakes,” said Bentley Johnson, senior partnership manager at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action added that Line 5 was shut down for about two months last summer and there were no related price increases for oil or propane.

“These assertions about a lack of petroleum supplies are not based in reality,” he said. “Other sources exist and we don’t need to continue risking the Great Lakes for Enbridge’s profits.”

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