Whitmer’s anti-pipeline crusade will inflict pain across the Midwest and Canada
The ransomware attack that temporarily shut down the Colonial Pipeline showed the nation’s (real) infrastructure is ripe target for criminal gangs and nation states bent on disrupting our economy.
But much closer to home are politicians who are part of a broader movement to shutdown infrastructure that transports the petroleum and natural gas powering our economy. One of those anti-pipeline pols is Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Whitmer, whose crusade against an oil and natural gas pipeline threatens not just the Midwest’s economy, but international relations, too:
Late last year Ms. Whitmer moved to revoke and terminate an easement that lets the pipeline operate for 4.5 miles across the Straits of Mackinac. She’s seeking a state court injunction to force Enbridge to shut down Line 5 and “permanently decommission” the pipeline.
Ms. Whitmer claims Enbridge has created an “unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that could devastate our economy and way of life.” But the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the federal regulator that oversees Line 5, said in January that it is “presently aware of no unsafe or hazardous conditions that would warrant shutdown of Line 5.”
Evidence and reason are hardly necessary when the real goal is building up one’s green bona fides. But the economic fallout may be much harder for Whitmer to avoid, if she’s successful:
Consumer Energy Alliance, an advocacy group, says a shutdown of Line 5 could cause propane shortages in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and Midwestern farmers could face rising costs for diesel fuel and more. A report by the group found that, even by conservative estimates, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana would lose more than 33,750 jobs and $265.7 million in annual state tax revenue from the pipeline’s closure.
Refineries in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania would lose much of their crude oil supply. United Steelworkers Local 912 President Justin Donley has warned that closing Line 5 would jeopardize the Toledo Refining Company, which isn’t equipped to receive oil by truck. The result would be a “devastating loss of income” for nearly 350 union workers and “further economic collapse of the Northern Ohio/Southern Michigan economy,” he said.
And let’s not forget the flap this is causing with one of our closest allies:
The Canadian government raised these treaty concerns this month in an amicus brief filed in U.S. federal court. Refineries in Ontario depend on the pipeline, and so does the Toronto Pearson International Airport for jet fuel. “A Line 5 shutdown would severely disrupt the supply and increase the price consumers pay for fuel across Quebec and Ontario,” the Canadians argued, adding that “in western Canada, the loss of Line 5 would have a devastating impact on the industry and economy.”
It’s not easy, cheap, or diplomatic being green. But none of that appears to matter to Gov. Whitmer, or her determination to plunge the regional economy, and part of Canada, too, into a tailspin.