An Enbridge spokesperson said the move could have “devastating” economic consequences.
“Enbridge remains convinced that Line 5 continues to operate safely and that there is no credible basis for ending the 1953 easement allowing Dual Line 5 pipelines to cross the Straits of Mackinac,” said the spokesperson, Michael Barnes. “Line 5 is a vital energy source not only for Michigan, but for the entire region, including Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec.”
Opponents of the move also said they feared a sudden shutdown could disrupt oil supplies, forcing neighboring refineries out of business and disrupting propane supplies to Michigan’s upper peninsula, where many residents rural people depend on propane to heat their homes.
“The closure of Line 5 would kill thousands of jobs in Michigan, have a huge impact on the manufacturing sector and cost our economy hundreds of millions of dollars when the state is already reeling from a pandemic” said Mike Johnson, vice president of government affairs at Michigan Manufacturers. Association.
A study commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation, however, found that the economic impact to Michigan oil producers of closing Line 5 would be minimal and that other shipping methods such as trucking would allow refineries to continue to operate.
“There are alternatives to transporting this oil,” said Margrethe Kearney, senior lawyer at the Center for Environmental Law and Policy. “I think we should be very careful and really skeptical of Enbridge’s arguments that closing this pipeline will lead to dire circumstances and the skies will fall.”
The decision came after nearly a decade of political pressure. According to Ms Kearney, a 2010 oil spill on another Enbridge, Michigan line that dumped nearly 850,000 gallons of oil sand into the Kalamazoo River has sparked public interest in Line 5 and other pipelines.
“It’s a very iconic part of Michigan culture,” Ms. Kearney said of the area. “So when people realized there was this pipeline over there, it was really a big deal.”