Enbridge to keep pipeline operating despite Michigan governor’s deadline

Sarnia's Mayor Mike Bradley also said he expected the oil and natural gas to keep flowing through the pipeline, adding that Whitmer does not have the power to stop supply

General view of the Imperial Oil refinery, located near Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline, which Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered shut down in May 2021, in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada March 20, 2021.

Enbridge Inc. said it will continue to ship crude through its Line 5 pipeline that crosses the Great Lakes, despite Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s deadline Wednesday to shut the conduit.

“Enbridge will continue to deliver via Line 5 safe, reliable and affordable energy to fuel the region’s economies,” the Canadian pipeline giant said in an emailed statement Wednesday. The company had previously pledged to keep the pipeline running.

Whitmer set the May 12 deadline in November after she revoked an easement allowing the pipeline to cross along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, but Enbridge is challenging that order in U.S. federal court and says it will continue to operate Line 5.

The 1,038-kilometre pipeline supplies oil and natural gas liquids to the U.S. Midwest states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, carrying the oil from Superior, Wis., through Michigan to Sarnia.

Shutting the pipeline would require tens of thousands of trucks and hundreds of rail cars to transport oil and fuel by road, Enbridge has warned.

Homeowners that rely on propane to warm their homes in Michigan could see prices increase. Airports in Detroit and Toronto receive jet fuel from local refineries supplied by Line 5.

Sarnia’s Mayor Mike Bradley also said he expected the oil and natural gas to keep flowing through the pipeline, adding that Whitmer does not have the power to stop supply.

“The governor has no power, as far as I know, to shut it down” and the ongoing U.S. court-ordered mediation and the Canadian government’s intervention “tells me there will be no stoppage of the line today,” Bradley told the Sarnia Observer.

“I think there will be a lot of rhetoric going back and forth,” Bradley said about the the state’s “arbitrary deadline.”

Whitmer has threatened on Tuesday to go after Enbridge’s profits if the Calgary-based energy company continues to operate the pipeline after her Wednesday deadline, according to the Sarnia Observer.

Her letter to Enbridge on Tuesday arrived on the same day the Canadian government filed a brief with the U.S. court which had ordered the state and the company to enter into mediation. the Sarnia Observer reports.

“Line 5 is essential to our energy security,” Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement. “It heats both Canadian and American homes. It supports both Canadian and American jobs,” he said.

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