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Lawmakers Push Back Against Line 5 Shutdown Order

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With the utility tunnel set to replace the Line 5 pipeline still two-to-four years away from completion, many lawmakers and advocates are confused why Line 5 is being shut down now.

According to a shutdown order put forth by Governor Gretchen Whitmer back in November, the Line 5 oil pipeline running under the Mackinac Straits must cease operation at midnight Wednesday night.

“You can’t just shut it down,” said Representative Jack O’Malley, “Look what happened with the Colonial pipeline.”

Skyrocketing utility prices, gas and oil shortages. That’s what Republicans say will happen across the state if Enbridge is forced to shut down the Line 5 pipeline without a reasonable replacement.

In a letter to Enbridge Tuesday, Governor Whitmer not only reiterated the deadline to shut the line down but threatened trespassing and reimbursement claims, “If the state prevails in the underlying litigation and bridge will face the prospect of having to discord to the state all of its profits it derived from its wrongful use of the easement lands.”

“To come forward with a bipartisan solution like we have and for Governor Whitmer to ignore it,” said Senator Wayne Schmidt, “Quite frankly some of the proposals that they put forth, aren’t real proposals.”

Until the tunnel is built Whitmer has said alternative modes of transport can be used. Republicans say that’s not viable.

In a statement by her press secretary Wednesday, her office defended her decision, “Governor Whitmer is following through on her promise to protect and defend the Great Lakes, which are vital to our economy and way of life. The Line 5 pipeline is a ticking time bomb that threatens over 1.3 million jobs that generate $82 billion in wages annually across the US, including 350,000 jobs in Michigan. Michiganders cannot trust Enbridge, especially after Enbridge’s Kalamazoo pipeline ruptured causing one of the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history and dumping one million gallons of oil into the river. What is happening with the Colonial Pipeline right now shows the danger of relying heavily on a single energy supply. That’s why Governor Whitmer has put in place a plan to protect jobs, diversify and expand our renewable energy resources, and ensure Michigan’s energy needs are met, while also taking action to get the oil out of the water as soon as possible. If Enbridge continues to operate the pipeline beyond the deadline, the state will seek to disgorge the company of its profits earned while unlawfully trespassing on state land.”

“We don’t have the trucks, the rail cars, the personnel or the barges available to haul this energy,” said Senator Ed McBroom.

Tuesday, while responding to the Colonial pipeline shutdown on the East Coast, former Michigan Governor  and current Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm seemed to agree.

“We have some double down on ensuring that there’s an ability to truck oil and the gas but it’s clear the pipe is the best way to go,” said Granholm.

“To kinda paraphrase a former vice president, that’s an inconvenient truth,” said Rep. O’Malley.

Enbridge has fired back, with the backing of the Canadian government, with a lawsuit saying this is beyond the Governor’s power.

“Enbridge has a responsibility to the people of Michigan in the Great Lakes region and will continue to operate line 5 safely reliably and affordably to fuel the regions economies” they said in a statement. Enridge plans to push through the Governor’s orders and let a federal judge decide.

“Is compromise now a four letter word?” asked O’Malley, “Can’t we figure something out? No, we can’t, and that’s where we’re at.”

While the tunnel is still in the permitting process, the rescinding of the easement would also halt any construction on the tunnel as that access is still needed for that work.

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